RESOLUTION ON RAISING FELONY THEFT THRESHOLDS

Summary

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RESOLUTION ON RAISING FELONY THEFT THRESHOLDS

RESOLUTION ON RAISING FELONY THEFT THRESHOLDS

Summary:

This Resolution supports raising felony theft thresholds, as many current state felony theft thresholds were set years or decades ago, and have not been updated to reflect economic growth nor changes in the value of consumer goods. For example, a felony theft of $1,000 in 1985 is equal to more than twice that in 2015 dollars. Further, research shows that higher thresholds do not impact property crime nor larceny rates. Additionally, as states raise thresholds, these dollar values should be indexed to a formula-based inflation measure. Raising felony theft thresholds would continue to protect the public while preventing overcriminalization and unnecessary prison sentences. It is vital that we focus costly prison beds on those who pose a danger to society rather than nonviolent offenders sentenced under decades-old felony theft standards.

Model Resolution:

WHEREAS, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is committed to developing effective criminal justice policies that hold offenders accountable while maximizing results for public safety, victims, and taxpayers; and

WHEREAS, many state felony theft thresholds were set years or decades ago and have not been adjusted for inflation; and

WHEREAS, since 2000, at least 35 states have increased their felony theft thresholds; currently, six states have a threshold of $2000 or higher, nine have a threshold of $1500, and 19 have a threshold of $1000; and,

WHEREAS, increasing felony thresholds has not been show to result in higher property crime or larceny rates; and

WHEREAS, the states that raised their thresholds since 2001 reported nearly the same average declines in property crime and larceny as the states that did not make changes; and

WHEREAS, felony offenses typically have a penalty of at least one year in a state prison, while a misdemeanor typically results in jail time or probation; and

WHEREAS, prison sentences have not been shown to be a more cost-efficient or effective way to deal with many low-level nonviolent offenders as compared to alternatives to incarceration; and

WHEREAS, prison beds should be primarily focused on those who pose a danger to society,

 THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that jurisdictions should review their felony theft thresholds.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that jurisdictions should raise their felony theft threshold and index that threshold to a formula-based inflation measure to be adjusted at regular intervals.