California Governor Gavin Newsom is once again facing harsh criticism, after comments he made Wednesday seemed to accuse police and prosecutors of not holding criminals to account as crime in the Golden State soars towards unprecedented, even surreal, levels.
“It seems to me that there’s deterrence when people are arrested for breaking the law and are prosecuted,” Newsom said, according to a report by Fox 26. “We need arrests and we need prosecution. We need people held to account. No one condones that behavior — quite the contrary.”
“Prop 47 has been conveniently used, from my humble perspective, as an excuse for things that don’t necessarily have to be, meaning people can arrest, they can hold people accountable, and they should,” the governor added.
Newsom’s comments came after he praised three state laws for their help in reducing crime across the state: Proposition 47, which downgraded some felonies to misdemeanors; Proposition 57, which reduced prison sentences; and Assembly Bill 109, which shifted detainees from state prisons to local jails.
All three laws were enacted under the tenure of Newsom’s predecessor, Democratic former Gov. Jerry Brown. Newsom served under Brown as lieutenant governor, from 2011-2019, but much has changed since then, and not for the better.
California has seen more than its share of high-profile crimes in recent months, including “smash and grab” thefts, caught on now-viral videos, at major department stores up and down the state, and the brutal murders of philanthropist Jacqueline Avant and UCLA graduate student Brianna Kupfer, who was stabbed to death in a Los Angeles store last Thursday.
In both cases, the suspected killers had lengthy and violent criminal histories.
“He should be ashamed of himself,” said Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, following Newsom’s remarks. “This is the environment that he created. And he’s either ignorant of the statistics, or he’s a liar”
Smittcamp who has been district attorney in Fresno County since 2015, claimed the Brown-era laws were having no discernable impact on reducing crime.
“It’s not deterring [crime], it’s not preventing it,” Smittcamp said. “It’s not doing anything to stop this, which is why it just keeps getting worse and worse, and we keep seeing more bold behaviors. We keep seeing more criminals who are empowered.”
Smittcamp accused the governor of trying to “destroy law enforcement” by “weakening our laws.”
“If he thinks that shoplifting is down, and all of his rhetoric about Prop 47 and the success of it is simply just a lie,” Smittcamp said. “They’ve caused such a disrespect for the law by weakening our laws. Newsom has tried to destroy law enforcement, so for him to sit here and say that he wants a more local effort put forth is so offensive to me, because he is the person who is letting these dangerous criminals out of prison on parole left and right.”
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