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Attacked by supporters of the recall, Newsom defends his crime record

Facing criticism from supporters of the recall for increasing gun violence and theft in California retailing, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday called for more accountability and enforcement, but insisted that the He state was on the right track in criminal justice.

Newsom is committed to continuing California’s comprehensive efforts to reduce crime, focusing in part on a substantial increase in funding for mental health care, drug treatment and after-school programs. The governor said the state would not revert to the difficult era of decades ago, when the state was building new prisons and enacting a “three strikes” law that sent repeat offenders in perpetuity. for 25 years.

“We have to hold people to account, but we will do it in a thoughtful and judicious manner,” Newsom said at a press conference in Long Beach. “We’re not going back to the way things were in the ’80s and’ 90s, at least not while I’m here.”

Hoping to hasten his departure, recall organizers and crime victims traveled across California this week to highlight Newsom’s criminal justice record, including the early release of thousands of prisoners in due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the governor’s moratorium on the death penalty.

At a press conference outside the State Capitol on Tuesday, activist Marc Klaas tore Newsom apart for sparing the life of the man who killed his daughter Polly after kidnapping her from their home in Petaluma in 1993.

“Gov. Newsom said at the press conference, when he declared the moratorium, that we must do more for victims of crime. Well, it seems the thing he did for victims of crime after that was to offer early release to tens of thousands of murderers, rapists and pedophiles, ”Klaas said.

Anne Dunsmore, campaign manager for the pro-recall organization Rescue California, said Newsom and the state’s Democratic legislative leaders, although their progressive criminal justice policies, “misled the public in him making believe that their so-called reforms will make us safer “.

Newsom on Wednesday met with the mayors and police chiefs of California’s 13 largest cities, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, to discuss crime trends in California. Newsom noted that gun violence has increased nationwide, saying no state has been spared and Americans have every right to expect their elected leaders to address the issue.

Much of the press conference focused on the eruption of shoplifting, made public across the country by viral videos of thieves brazenly stealing goods from stores in San Francisco. Just last week in Glassell Park, Rite Aid employee Miguel Penaloza, 36, was shot and killed when he confronted two people suspected of shoplifting in the store.

In May, a Walgreens representative told the San Francisco board of directors that the company had closed 17 stores in the city over the past five years, in part because of financial losses from shoplifting. Earlier this month, hours at five Target stores in San Francisco were cut in an attempt to reduce theft.

Newsom on Wednesday signed legislation to re-establish a California Highway Patrol-coordinated law enforcement unit that focuses on tackling organized shoplifting rings in California, which police officials say , are responsible for a significant portion of thefts. The unit was established in 2018 and will continue to operate until 2026.

“It’s a challenge, I’ll be honest with you, but it’s not insurmountable,” San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said at the governor’s press conference.

Scott praised the maintenance of the special law enforcement unit, saying he hopes it thwarts the message that “anything goes” in San Francisco.

But the Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert, a candidate for the post of state attorney general, said she doubted the CHP unit would have any effect.

“The constant weakening of accountability is destroying our communities and our businesses,” Schubert said Wednesday in a Twitter post. “Ask the real prosecutors. The retail organized theft law completely ignores the realities of what happens every day in California. “

Gun deaths and homicides rose sharply in California’s largest counties in 2020, though these rates are still far below the level of violence the state experienced in the 1980s and 1990s, according to an analysis crime data from the Public Policy Institute of California.

This is one of the reasons why crime may be a political vulnerability for Newsom in the September 14 recall election. A UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll in May found that 42% of those polled believed Newsom was doing a poor job of tackling crime in the state, up from 35% in September.

For years, Newsom has been at the forefront of the movement to move the California criminal justice system away from the repressive policies of the past and to expand educational opportunities and mental health care programs that reduce recidivism and help people stay out of prison. .

Newsom supported Proposition 47, which voters approved in 2014 while he was lieutenant governor, aimed at turning certain drug and property crimes from felonies into misdemeanors. He was also a leading advocate for Proposition 64, approved in 2016 to legalize the use of marijuana for Californians aged 21 and over.

Along with the moratorium on the death penalty, Newsom has kept its promise to close two of California’s 35 state prisons as the state’s prison population continues to decline. After the ex-State Atty. General Xavier Becerra accepted a post in the Biden administration, Newsom’s candidate to replace him was then MP Rob Bonta, a strong advocate for the abolition of the death penalty and the elimination of the cash bond for many offenses. Bonta took office after being confirmed by the Democratic-led California legislature.

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