Addiction, untreated mental health, and the lack of consequences
Here in Santa Cruz crime is on the rise. There are three driving forces; addiction, untreated mental health, and the lack of consequences for repeat offenders.
Treating mental health issues through incarceration is not working. Our jails are not equipped to treat the mentally ill. Untreated these unfortunate folks are rearrested over and over in an endless cycle. We need a true mental health county lock down facility.
With the passing of prop 47 we lost the felony escalation of repeat offenses. The theft of anything valued under $950, including firearms, is classified as a misdemeanor. And no number of repeat offenses results in a felony charge. There are no consequences for repeat offenders to encourage prevention of the crime.
Social services without accountability has created an ecosystem of enablement.
Easy access to heroin and meth have lead to an epidemic of IV drug use. Maintaining a drug habit is expensive and drives property crime and leaves our parks and beaches littered with used needles. We are fighting a heroin epidemic and a mental health crisis disguised as a homeless issue. Not one solution, not one crisis.
What can we do about the rise in crime?
- Increase our awareness and call 911 when we see suspicious behavior.
- Make sure you and your children know what to do when you find a used needle
- Get to know your neighbors – join a neighborhood social media site
- Reexamine our notoriously low bail schedule.
- Require mandatory treatment for addicted offenders. Without consequences there can be no chance for an addicted person to begin the process of recovery.
- Pass Laura’s Law to help the mentally ill who are unable to help themselves.
- Modify prop 47 to restore consequences for repeat offenders.
- Make sure we have enough on duty police officers and Sheriff’s deputies.
Valerie Andromacha-Atha says
I work at an antique collective in Santa Cruz. A couple weeks ago, my coworker recognized a known thief and called 911. The police came and found lock picking tools and some meth on the guy and just let him go. Took the tools and that was it. How could they just let him continue to tweak and steal from good people without consequence?
Hi Valerie – Thank you for your comment. I would encourage you to complete a Citizen Comment Form to share your experience with our Police Chief. More information and the form can be found here: http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/departments/police/how-do-i/obtain-a-citizen-comment-form
Monica Larenas says
It is not true that there can be no consequences for crimes that were downgraded from felonies to misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are definitely crimes that can result in penalties, including jail time. Californians for Safety and Justice published a report called “Breaking the Cycle of Low Level Crimes” that can be found here: http://www.safeandjust.org/Policing-Innovations . It describes ways that police and communities can address the issue of repeat offenders. Prop 47 isn’t about no consequences, it was about ‘right sizing’ consequences and putting more resources into treatment and education. It’s important to remember that a felony on one’s record makes it very hard to turn your life around later.
Hi Monica – thank you for your comment and link to report. We have never stated there are “no” consequences…instead our stance is there is a “lack” of consequences specifically for repeat offenders. Increasing penalties for repeat misdemeanor convictions we believe is about right sizing.