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Policy-making should be based on facts and evidence, not false perceptions or political motivations. Proposals to increase penalties for shoplifting fail this test.

In California, shoplifting is a misdemeanor that applies when the value of goods taken is $950 or less. Retail theft that exceeds $950 may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. This standard was created by Proposition 47, a reform measure passed by voters in November 2014, and is one of the toughest in the country. For example, in Texas, a felony charge isn’t triggered until the value of stolen goods reaches $2,500 — much higher than in California.

Shoplifting remains well below pre-pandemic levels despite a recent rise. The shoplifting rate — the number of shoplifting crimes per 100,000 Californians — was 210 in 2022, the most recent statewide data available. This is down by 17% from 2014, the year that Prop. 47 took effect.

Policymakers should avoid resurrecting the failed, incarceration-focused policies of the past. Instead, California needs thoughtful solutions to real, high-priority problems. This includes addressing the root causes of crime by investing in housing, jobs, education, food assistance, and other strategies to ensure that all Californians can be healthy and thrive.

California's crime rates are down significantly compared to past highs, despite a recent national increase. Learn how California's current crime rate compares to previous decades.

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Everyone wants to live in safe communities, and data show California continues to experience crime rates well below historical peaks. The property crime rate — the number of property crimes per 100,000 residents — was 2,314 in 2022, far below the peak of 6,881 in 1980. The violent crime rate was 495 per 100,000 in 2022, less than half the 1992 peak of 1,104.

Crime rates increased across the nation as the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll. Any rise in crime is concerning, but policymakers should avoid overreacting as crime rates remain at historic lows in California.

Instead of resurrecting the failed, incarceration-focused policies of the past, state leaders must advance strategies to reduce youth violence, strengthen families and communities, and target the longstanding structural barriers to opportunity — such as poverty and housing instability — that disproportionately impact Black, Latinx, and other Californians of color.

Despite recent increases, shoplifting remains below pre-pandemic levels in the state. Learn how California's current shoplifting rate compares to previous years.

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who are k-12 students from multilingual homes?

Students from multilingual homes are 5 to 18 years of age who attend a public K-12 school and speak a language other than English at home.

Millions of California students come to school with an invaluable asset: living in homes where a language other than English is spoken. Ensuring these students can leverage their linguistic assets and succeed at school requires meeting their basic needs, including access to affordable medical care.

Health care should be accessible and affordable to all Californians, especially school-aged children. Medi-Cal is our state’s health coverage program for residents with low incomes and is essential for the health and well-being of millions of K-12 students and their families.

More than 1.4 million California K-12 public school students who live in homes where a language other than English is spoken participate in Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal provides preventive care and treatment for health conditions that allows students from multilingual homes to attend and thrive at school – including achieving the opportunity of biliteracy.

Medi-Cal is a critical part of the social safety net that combats poverty, meets basic needs, and helps students attend school and prepare for the future. By providing access to affordable health care, Medi-Cal frees up household resources for other basic needs such as rent, utilities, or food. Without the support Medi-Cal and other social safety net programs provide, students’ basic needs may not be met and they would be less likely to regularly attend and engage in school.

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Nearly 1.2 million California public K-12 students are English learners who bring an invaluable asset with them to school: speaking a language other than English. Ensuring these students can leverage their linguistic assets requires them to attend and succeed at school.

Having a safe, stable place to live is crucial for student development and educational success. But, more than 245,000 of California’s public K-12 students experienced homelessness in 2022-23. This includes children temporarily staying with other families due to economic hardship, and children living in motels, shelters, vehicles, public spaces, or substandard housing.

Students who are English learners disproportionately experience homelessness. English learners comprise 1 in 5 California K-12 public school students, but English learners were more than 1 in 3 of the state’s students who experienced homelessness in 2022-23. Housing instability is one reason English learners experience high rates of chronic absenteeism, which causes them to lose critical access to curriculum, opportunities to leverage their linguistic assets, and social structures that schools, educators, and peers offer.

Policymakers should boost investments in safe, affordable housing and target additional funding and resources for students who are more likely to experience homelessness, including California’s English learners. Policy solutions should also be rooted in equitable interventions that build community trust and integrate culturally and linguistically competent practices to ensure every California K-12 student can thrive in school and life.

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