State Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) is making another attempt to rectify what she called an unintended consequence of Proposition 47 by creating penalties for the possession of “date rape” drugs.
California voters in 2014 approved Proposition 47, which changed certain “non-serious” drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, resulting in reduced sentences and fewer inmates in jail.
So previous felonies, including drug offenses, fraud, theft and forgery, became misdemeanors under The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.
“The malicious intent behind possessing and using ‘date rape’ drugs on another individual necessitates an aggressive response from law enforcement,” Galgiani, whose district includes Galt and northern San Joaquin County, said on Feb. 18 when she introduced Senate Bill 1182.
She added, “These drugs will render a sexual assault victim completely incapacitated. They also result in a victim having little to no memory of the assault which took place. This allows a rapist to escape prosecution because a victim can’t remember the details of the crime when questioned in court.”
Galgiani said SB 1182 would restore the ability of district attorneys to pursue felony charges against individuals caught with the most common date rape drugs, including Rohypnol, GHB and ketamine.
Her bill is a reintroduction of SB 333, which last year received support from law enforcement, crime victims groups and women’s groups.
That bill passed through the Legislature with near unanimous, bipartisan support. In fact, no elected in the Senate or State Assembly voted against the legislation.
But Gov. Jerry Brown in October returned SB 333 and eight other bills without his signature.
“Each of these bills creates a new crime, usually by finding a novel way to characterize and criminalize conduct that is already proscribed,” he wrote in his veto letter covering all nine bills. “This multiplication and particularization of criminal behavior creates increasing complexity without commensurate benefit.”
Brown added that California’s criminal code has grown to more than 5,000 separate provisions over the last several decades, during which the state’s jail and prison populations have also increased.
“Before we keep going down this road, I think we should pause and reflect on how our system of criminal justice could be made more humane, more just, and more cost-effective,” Brown wrote.
Legislators had until Feb. 19 to introduce bills that could be heard in the Legislature during this year. SB 1182 will be assigned to a Senate committee.