‘Public Safety and Rehabilitation?’ – Don’t be Fooled
By: Stacey L. Montgomery, Esq.
Lassen County District Attorney
California Attorney General Kamala Harris recently released alarming report detailing how violent crime in California is on the rise, increasing 10% over the last year.
According to the report, violent crimes were up last year by about 15,000 to a high of 166,588. Homicides went up 9.7 percent, robberies 8.5 percent, aggravated assaults 8 percent. Rapes increased 36 percent.
In spite of those figures, Governor Jerry Brown has placed before voters this November a ballot measure entitled the “Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016”
The title is extremely deceptive. Journalist and reporter Jon Fleischman has it correct when he says that the measure should be labeled the “Let Violent Criminals out of Prison Early Act of 2016.”
The measure, now officially Proposition 57, claims that it will only allow the early release of those inmates who have committed “non-violent offenses,” but goes on to define “violent crime” in a way that only specifies 23 specific violent crimes. This means that there are a lot of “violent” crimes that will be considered “non-violent.”
There is a long list of crimes that will not qualify as “violent”. To name a few of the supposedly “non-violent crimes” for which early release would be possible if this measure is passed: Assault with a deadly weapon, battery involving serious bodily injury, domestic violence involving trauma, human trafficking involving sex acts with a minor, rape by intoxication, rape of an unconscious person, taking a hostage, possession of a bomb or weapon of mass destruction, hate crime causing physical injury, arson causing great bodily injury, discharging a firearm on school grounds, corporal injury to a child, and false imprisonment of an elderly person, and the list goes on and on.
In addition to significantly reducing the time a vast number of violent criminals would have to serve before being eligible for parole, the Governor’s measure actually allows bureaucrats at the Department of Corrections to give “time off for good behavior” to literally any inmate in state prison, including those convicted of the most heinous criminal acts, including first-degree murder. He would have you believe that there exists no system of credits being granted to prisoners and no rehabilitative programs within the prison system being offered to these inmates. This is blatantly false.
As soon as an inmate is placed in prison they receive an evaluation. If they don’t have a high school diploma they are placed into a program wherein they will earn one. It is mandatory. They can receive drug and alcohol services; receive a college education; and technical skills. They also have religious services and music lessons. For every class they finish and for every program completed, they receive “milestone credits” in addition to the actual and statutory good time credits already provided by law. Yet, Governor Brown would have you believe there is no incentive for them to be good.
The measure also re-victimizes the victims of crime. Victims who were somewhat certain as to the disposition of their attackers, would all now have to wonder if suddenly their attackers would be back on the streets – much sooner than they had been promised by the criminal justice system. In one measure, the Governor would overturn a number of previous tough-on-crime measures passed by California voters, including Marsy’s Law; 3-Strikes-And-You’re-Out – the Victims’ Bill of Rights; the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act; and the Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime Prevention Act.
If passed the number of criminals eligible for release numbers in the tens of thousands. Given the above, it is clear that the Governor’s plan is ill conceived, deceptive, and dangerous for all of the citizens in California.
For more information regarding the harmful effects of Prop 57 to the citizens of our county and California as a whole, visit our website at:
http://www.lassencounty.org/dept/district-attorney/welcome or email: LassenDA@co.lassen.ca.us
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