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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

Hearing on CA retail theft draws diverse views

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Tuesday, February 13, 2024   

California lawmakers are considering a range of options to combat a rise over the last two years of felony retail theft - large-scale shoplifting - and held the latest in a series of hearings in West Hollywood on Friday. The State Assembly Select Committee on Retail Theft heard from residents, business owners and social-justice groups.

Tinisch Hollins, executive director of the nonprofit Californians for Safety and Justice, said everyone agreed on one thing.

"The retailers and folks who patronize stores deserve safety. People should be able to do business. That's not up for debate," Hollins said, "But relying on incarceration, jail and prison and arrests are not going to get us out of this problem, because it's far more complex."

Some in law enforcement have suggested in recent years that Proposition 47, passed a decade ago, has contributed to the uptick. Prop 47 raised the threshold for felony theft to $950 - so if the amount stolen is more than that, it would be a felony with jail time.

The law addressed overcrowding in the jails and has saved $750 million since 2015 in incarceration costs, diverting it to programs that address drivers of crime, including poverty, addiction and mental illness.

Hollins says fear-mongering should not be allowed to undermine criminal justice reform and notes that just 8% of people who participate in Prop 47-funded programs end up back behind bars.

"There are many who are really capitalizing off the fact that people are scared that businesses are being impacted, and that there's this perception that there's lawlessness, but the truth is, there are ways for us to intervene in this crisis, and we should be using them," Hollins said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed cracking down on resellers of stolen goods and clarifying that law enforcement can combine the value of multiple thefts to reach the threshold for felony grand theft.

Disclosure: Californians for Safety and Justice contributes to our fund for reporting on Criminal Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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