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California Governor Gavin Newsom has pulled back on a piece of legislation that aimed to impose stricter penalties on repeat shoplifters and drug dealers who lace substances with fentanyl.

According to a readout of the initial proposal, the change would have established penalties for repeat offenders convicted three times for petty theft or shoplifting within three years, empowered law enforcement to combine the value of multiple thefts, introduced longer prison sentences for any drug dealer who “knowingly sells” or provides drugs mixed with fentanyl, and expanded mental health and drug addiction programs.

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This measure, which was set to be voted on by state lawmakers, was intended to compete with another crime-fighting proposal backed by prosecutors and large retailers that will appear on the November ballot.

In a statement, Governor Gavin Newsom said, “For months, attempts were made to engage the California District Attorneys Association in this effort. They refused, opting to instead push a ballot measure that would revive policies from the era of mass incarceration and the failed War on Drugs.” Newsom added that he would “soon sign a robust public safety package that expands criminal penalties, bolsters police and prosecutor tools, and cracks down on retail theft — the most significant reform in decades.”

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Greg Totten of Californians for Safer Communities welcomed Gavin Newsom’s withdrawal, stating, “We are pleased the Governor and Legislature have dropped their countermeasure and welcome them to join our campaign to responsibly amend Prop 47 to deal with retail theft, the fentanyl crisis, and homelessness.”


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