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Op-ed Placement

McAuliffe Takes a Page out of the Conservative Playbook

Originally Published in Washington Post on 1/27/17.

Many Virginians thought Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) forgot the General Assembly existed after his unilateral decree regarding felon voting rights last year. However, we have reason for encouragement this year as McAuliffe announced several reforms he wants to accomplish in his final year in office. Better late than never.

Though these proposals will likely be lauded on the left as some sort of progressive dream, the reality is that conservatives in red states have been producing successful results in criminal-justice reform for many years. While liberals try to talk about amorphous concepts such as “social justice,” conservatives have stuck to the facts and focused on data-driven solutions that enhance public safety.

In fact, some of McAuliffe’s latest proposals seem to be coming straight out of the heart of Texas. This month, he called for a higher threshold for felony theft.

Virginia is tied with New Jersey for the lowest felony theft threshold at $200. That means if someone steals an item worth more than $200, the crime becomes grand larceny, a felony, rather than a misdemeanor, and that individual can face up to 20 years of imprisonment.

Research from the Pew Public Safety Performance Project shows that a majority of states

have increased their theft threshold since 2001. Of the 23 states analyzed by Pew that made the change between 2001 and 2011, the larceny and property crime rates decreased in 19 states. On the whole, the states that increased the theft threshold had greater decreases in property crime and larceny rates than the states that did not increase the threshold.