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Prop. 47 moves us past the jail-first response to drug crimes

To the editor: As a former captain in the Inglewood Police Department, a former deputy police chief in West Sacramento and the former director of the state prison system's parole division, I voted for Proposition 47 not despite my experiences in law enforcement, but because of them. ("Prop. 47 is achieving its main goal, but with unintended consequences," Jan. 30)

Decades of using incarceration as our primary response to drug crime led to high recidivism rates, failing to address cycles of crime often driven by drug and mental health problems. Proposition 47, passed by voters in November, still allows law enforcement to arrest and jail someone before trial, but we know that incarceration often just pauses rather than stops criminal behavior.

Implying that Proposition 47 means we do nothing to drug offenders is misleading. The new law's implementation is a chance to invest in new strategies, with law enforcement viewing the drivers of crime differently.

I'm proud to have watched policing innovate over the years to reduce crime to record lows, and Proposition 47 is a chance to continue that innovation.

Thomas G. Hoffman, Folsom

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To the editor: Drugs don't breed crime; it is the illegality of drugs that breeds crime. It is the illegality that turns a $1 product into a $100 product that often can only be acquired by criminal behavior.

Yes, an uninsured $1,000-per-day medical condition will breed crime.

People would no more rob for a $1 candy bar than they would for $1 worth of heroin. And, as politically incorrect as it may be to say, smacked out people don't commit crimes. These crimes are caused by cravings that can only be met by a product absurdly overpriced for no other reason than its illegality.

Additionally, the billions spent on interdiction could be redirected for hospitalization and care for a relatively small number of hard-core addicts. As for the casual but otherwise law-abiding user, we need to reconsider our obsession with managing pleasure and instead focus on accountability.

Peter Garey, Woodland Hills

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To the editor: Angry does not begin to describe how I felt after reading Sandy Banks' column. Ignoring expert opinion on the kind of people who commit crimes is irresponsible. It is and has always been known that there is a direct correlation between drug users and burglary and theft. To maintain their habit, hard-core drug addicts steal from families, friends and anyone else.

I and others I know had our homes burglarized after Proposition 47 passed. In fact, the people who ransacked my house left behind a rolled dollar bill, evidently a tool for snorting drugs.

Do you think I care that these people languished in overcrowded jails? Jail is where they belong. Why should we have to fortify our homes so these people can walk free? With just a slap on the hand for their crimes now, they will only get more brazen.

Thank you very little to those who supported this proposition.

Linda Flores, Gardena

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To the editor: Proposition 47 does not shield people who commit serious crimes. Drug addicts are not automatically exonerated if they beat someone, use a gun or commit rape.

Proposition 47 addresses those who might be incarcerated just for drug use. Violent criminals are not off the hook.

If police in Santa Clarita are using this flimsy logic not to do their job and go after real criminals in a neighborhood that residents say is under siege by meth addicts, then we do have a real problem, but not the one Banks describes. Are those officers, using that same logic, also afraid of going after meth dealers as well?

When I don't keep up my lawn, I'll tell my homeowners association it's because of Proposition 47.

Ken Treadway, Temecula

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