The California Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of business, local government and public safety organizations sent a joint letter to the Governor and state leaders this week regarding the need for a comprehensive approach to addressing the rise in theft across California.
The letter is an initial effort by the coalition to center the policy discussions regarding retail theft around three core pillars: prevention, enforcement and supervision. Without these pillars working in tandem, the coalition warned that the significant problems California is facing will remain unaddressed.
Addressing crime begins with prevention. This requires understanding that not all motives are the same, the coalition said.
“Identifying the cause and treating the symptom accordingly will produce the best outcome. In certain cases that may mean incentivized treatment and rehabilitation, in other cases it may require increased levels of consequence,” the letter states. “However, we recognize that treatment alone has proven to be an inadequate solution without sufficient enforcement.”
One of the primary functions of California’s criminal justice system is to correct harmful and criminal behavior through rehabilitation, education, incarceration, or a combination of each.
The coalition stresses that mass incarceration is not the solution. However, the lack of meaningful consequences limits the effectiveness of preventative programs, as there is little reason to comply with required treatment.
“A key to addressing the problems our communities and businesses are experiencing is raising the level of consequences for those who repeatedly, and most severely, are causing significant harm,” the coalition said.
The letter points out that many people who encounter the criminal justice system find themselves revolving in and out of that system.
Incentives should be created to help people commit to treatment, including connecting people on supervision to services, while also instilling accountability through higher levels of supervision.