Local leaders come out in favor of initiative to crack down on repeat offenders

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Supporters of the "Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018" held a news conference in Fresno Thursday as they work to collect enough signatures to get their crime-fighting measure on the November election ballot.

"This campaign is a bi-partisan statewide effort to fix the serious problems created by Propositions 47 and 57, and Assembly Bill 109," said Assembly Member Jim Patterson, R-Fresno.

Their claim is the efforts to reduce the California prison population, which was ordered by the US Supreme Court, and the voter-approved initiatives to reduce some drug crimes and other crimes from felonies to misdemeanors is keeping too many out of jail.

"Those that are arrested for drug offenses that used to be a felony, are now a misdemeanor, so when we cite, those individuals do not show up for court," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

A convenience store owner says thieves are now getting away without punishment. "These thieves who come in and walk away with merchandise really know nothing can be done to them," said J.P. Sethee.

The initiative would make changes to the California laws, including a three strikes type law for repeat offenders.

Opponents of the change, including the group "Californians for Safety and Justice" says the statistics show crimes are down statewide since the criminal reform measures were implemented. The group also notes that the state has saved hundreds of millions of dollars in jail and prison costs.

The petition to change the laws needs 365,000 signatures to get on the ballot. They claim to have 250,000 so far.
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