Prop 20: fear-mongering to boost corporate retail profits

Rebecca Aguila

Prop 20: fear-mongering to boost corporate retail profits

California Prop 20 shows what the true priorities of law enforcement in the state are and reflects the disturbing fetishization of punishment that animates policing. Vote NO on 20 and here is why:

The United States has seen the largest protest movement in the nation’s history rise up against racist policing and systemic racism more broadly. Many actions have been proposed to curb these practices.

Instead of listening to the pained cries of victims of police violence, Prop 20 seeks to increase punishment for some low-level theft crimes (like shoplifting) by making them “wobblers” that can be considered misdemeanors or felonies at a prosecutor’s discretion.

The advertising for Yes on 20 has highlighted violent crime as the main thrust for this bill in an attempt to fear-monger voters into legislating harsher punishments, putting more inmates into California’s already overcrowded prisons and jails.

This proposition also includes requirements for DNA collection for some misdemeanors and reduces the ability of non-violent offenders to be released from jail and placed on parole.

The funding for this proposition has come mostly from police unions and supermarkets. What a surprise that the police would support a prop that gives them more power to lord over Californians.

The supermarket funding may be more insidious. These mega-corporations hope that the increase in penalties will deter shoplifters by slapping them with felonies. Do you know a poor couple who was forced to steal diapers? Congratulations, they will now be charged with “organized retail crime.” Houseless persons who must continuously steal the food they need to survive? Lock them up, those scoundrels, for committing “serial crime!”

Albertsons-Safeway, one of the largest funders of this prop, has consistently been increasing their profits up to $14 billion a year. Cops and multi-billion-dollar companies want these laws. Do your interests align with theirs?

As more and more people come to recognize the need to reform policing in America, California crime-hawks have swung in the opposite direction: harsher punishment, less forgiveness, more authoritarian control mechanisms and (though not included in the prop text) more opportunities for police officers and prosecutors to make overtime as they ruin more people’s lives with felony convictions.

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