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CA initiative to get tougher on crime and increase DNA collection lands 2020 ballot




A prisoner walks down the hallway near his cell on June 8, 2017 in San Quentin, California.
A prisoner walks down the hallway near his cell on June 8, 2017 in San Quentin, California.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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While the “Keep California Safe” initiative failed to secure a spot on the 2018 November ballot, it did reach enough signatures for voters to see it in 2020.

Officially the “Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018,” key changes to criminal penalties could include increasing misdemeanor thefts from between $250 to $950 to felonies, as well as expanding the list of crimes that would fall under the category of “violent felonies.”

If passed, the measure would also allow DNA collection for lower crimes such as drug and theft, which were previously excluded. DNA collection has especially gained more media attention after Sacramento investigators were able to track down the suspected “Golden State Killer” using public genealogical sites.

Leading the ballot measure is Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) along with the group Crime Victims United of California.

But opponents say the measure doesn’t resonate with Californians, pointing to the passages of Prop 47 in 2014 and Prop 57 in 2016 as evidence for widespread support of progressive criminal justice reform.

So what do the outpour of signatures for 2020 mean? Are they a result of wanting to rollback on the recent overhaul of tougher criminal penalties due to unintended consequences? We hear from both sides of the argument.

Guests:

Jim Cooper, Democratic California State Assemblymember representing District 9, which includes Sacramento and San Joaquin County communities of Elk Grove, Lodi and Galt; he is a former captain at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department where he worked on a number of sex trafficking cases; he tweets @AsmJimCooper

Lenore Anderson, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice and the co-author of Propositions 47 and 57; she tweets @LenoreAnderson