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Safer Communities promotes ballot measure

The Californians for Safer Communities (C4SC) Coalition, a bipartisan group of more than 2,000 elected officials, small businesses, social justice organizations, victims, and law enforcement, voiced their support this past week for the Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act, which will appear on the November ballot.

At an event in Sacramento on June 28, members of the coalition addressed the need to solve the retail theft problem and the fentanyl epidemic. Fentanyl is one of the top killers in California, especially among young adults. Fentanyl-related deaths have increased 1,027 percent since 2017. In 2017, there were 537 deaths related to fentanyl (and other synthetic opioids), but in 2021, there were at least 6,054 deaths. The Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act increases the consequences for the sale of fentanyl by reclassifying it as a hard drug – with the focus of deterring individuals from trafficking fentanyl.

An independent report by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that the number of individuals convicted of a third-drug offense at the state level increased from 11,699 before Prop. 47 to 32,527 following the passage of Prop. 47. It is expected that if the Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act passes, incarceration rates will decrease by incentivizing mandatory drug courts, helping the state reduce incarceration recidivism while also achieving its budget goals.

The Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act is described by supporters as a compassionate approach to addressing many issues at the top of voters’ minds. Coalition members also voiced their concerns, charging that over the past few months, state leaders have prioritized politics over public safety and neglected the need for meaningful change. However, the initiative is set to appear on the November ballot and continues to include a diverse coalition of supporters, with coalition members advocating for its passage.

“Over the past couple of years, our cities have been impacted by retail crime, drug-related activities, and homelessness. These are priority issues our cities have been looking to address to restore their residents’ quality of life,” said Marcel Rodarte, Executive Director of the California Contract Cities Association. “We have also seen the fentanyl epidemic increase, killing hundreds of Americans every day. Yet, law enforcement lacks the tools to hold traffickers and dealers accountable, which leaves many families and loved ones without any justice for their loved ones who are killed by fentanyl poisoning related deaths.”

Angela Webb, CEO and Executive Director of Arrive Alive, California added: “Families and victims of drug-related crimes deserve to see justice and safety in their communities. Fentanyl is devastating to so many families who have had a loved one perish because of this drug. We need measures to increase consequences for drug traffickers of this drug and to compel those who are addicted into drug treatment programs.”

The Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act is designed to:

Hold those who are committing repeated retail theft and fentanyl sales crimes accountable for the safety and health of communities.

Create accountability for repeat smash-and-grab offenders who drive up costs for all Californians and chase retailers out of the state.

Bring back incentives and accountability needed for individuals to get into necessary drug treatment and job training programs – helping them begin new lives. Currently, those arrested multiple times for hard drug use have no incentive to choose treatment with no consequences.

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