AB 1772 would require jail time if someone were convicted of a third theft.
SACRAMENTO (KABC) -- Some California lawmakers, law enforcement agencies and retail representatives are calling for required jail time for repeat shoplifters.
At a press conference Monday, officials from across the state showed support for AB 1772, which would require jail time if someone were convicted of a third theft crime. Penalties would range from one to three years depending on the circumstances of the crime.
The bill aims to change Proposition 47, a policy passed by voters in 2014 that classified thefts under $950 as a misdemeanor.
Currently, punishments for thefts under $950 can include up to six months in county jail. The policy does not apply to all retail crimes. Robberies, for example, are a violent crime and do not apply to Prop 47.
The bill does not change the shoplifting limit of $950 and only applies to thefts under that dollar amount. Any thefts above $950 are already considered a felony.
"This is a common sense nonpartisan bill that would implement a measure of consequence for repeat shoplifters," San Bernardino Police Chief Darren Goodman said at the press conference.
The most recent data from the California Department of Justice shows shoplifting has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, but 2022 numbers were still on par or below many previous years and decades.
At Monday's press conference, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon D. Dicus said: "You can't walk down the street in California without realizing that things are getting worse as a result of Prop 47."
But, research shows there is little evidence, if any, that Prop 47 contributed to a rise in crime.
A study from the Public Policy Institute of California showed some evidence that Prop 47 may have affected theft, but rates were still well below previous decades.
A different analysis from researchers at UC Irvine showed the small increase in theft after the implementation of Prop 47 was not significant enough to pin on the policy.
California has a similar "three strikes" policy for more serious crimes - the more serious or violent felonies a person is convicted of, the longer the prison sentence. This policy was enacted in the 1990s.
A 2022 study from the California Policy Lab found that in general, there's not enough evidence to conclude that the "three strikes" rule was responsible for declines in violent crime. Nationwide, crime fell significantly during and after the 1990s, both in states that did and did not have "three strikes" laws.
AB 1772 would eventually go to voters to pass, if it gets through the state legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk.