California Governor Jerry Brown’s plan, to send nonviolent prisoners back to county jails under a new law is, akin to Santa giving gifts to Satan.
This new law AB-109, also known as “Realignment”, reclassifies certain nonviolent, non-serious and some sex offense felonies; allowing the convicted to serve time in a county jail, home detention or probation, instead of prison.
I am all for releasing people who do not belong in prison. However, if we continue to treat men and women who commit crimes like animals on a leach, with unfair laws that create more envy then solution to recidivism, then we will never release the right prisoner.
With public safety in mind, lawmakers have followed up the Three Strikes law that voters approved in 1994 with their own version of an unsafe and ill-conceived law. AB-109 signed by Gov. Brown to meet a federal court order to reduce California ’s prison population might satisfy a court order but offers hope to some undeserving inmates in the name of “Public safety.”
Before AB-109 became law, the situation with current California prisoners Michael James a black inmate and Michael Schneider a white inmate was this:
1994 case: Michael James is serving a 25 to life sentence under “Three Strikes” for passing a bad check at an Alpha Beta store for $94.00.
2008 case: Michael Schneider is serving a 28 year 4 month sentence for “Running a fraudulent real estate investments scam/Ponzi schemes for over 14 years; wherein he stole over $43,000,000 from over 57 investors, many of whom were elderly and lost their lifesaving.” He pleaded no contest to 173 felony counts (including residential burglary, builder financial abuse, embezzlement, grand theft and forgery). Unbelievably, these two men will serve the same amount of time behind bars. James must serve a minimum of 25 years while Schneider could be release after serving only 24 years. But wait!
Michael Schneider a Ponzi schemer is also labeled under AB-109 as an “N3” type offender: 1. Nonviolent 2 Non-serious 3 Not a sex offender, even though he stole $43 million. Under this new law, N3 convicted candidates are best suited to avoid prison time as of October 1, 2011. James is a petty thief but also has the label of, “Three Strikes” offender.
Schneider is not the type of prisoner to start prison riots or hunger strikes which is what a fearful public would preferred back in their community over the typical imagine of your average criminal. Nevertheless, it appears that fear is passing so many laws, that commonsense can be heard shouting “Enough already!”
Lawmakers have made it clear that, no inmate would be released from state prison to the street under AB-109. However, anyone who believes that none these prisoners will be set free considering the extra burden placed on the counties, probably also believes, there is a Santa Claus.
In all fairness, lawmakers, in fear of being labeled, soft on crime, should share the blame of creating a bad law with all Californians. On the other hand, nonviolent Wall Street type criminals currently serving time in California prisons are receiving a share of AB-109 as the state’s largest Christmas gift.
Prison officials are working around the clock with teams of mental heath, rehabilitation, probation and other agencies of the state to find those best suited for release to county control. However, in the process, they have to pass up on more than 8,000 second and third strikers who pose a lesser threat to public safety.
“Matt Cate, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, who referred to “Brown's plan” as the solution to comply with the court order, tells me Cate is, more interested in keeping his job then releasing an undeserving individual from prison, while more deserving prisoners, many black, rot in prison for petty crimes.
With the tool of AB-109 to assist and a computer program assessment already in use to release inmates, many undeserving individuals, will move to the front of the line for release.
California’s Three Strikes law is being treated as if it is not guilty of, contributing to the large number of truly nonviolent inmates being responsible for prison overcrowding. Second and third strikers are not eligible for early release under the new law.
The simple reason is that in creating AB-109 it unjustly and intentionally disqualified these inmates simply because of the label “Career criminal” associated with the Three Strikes law.
Governor Jerry Brown, the California legislature and prison Secretary Matthew Cate, should be forced to answer to the fact that a white nonviolent prisoner who schemed $43 million would be a safer release over a black nonviolent prisoner who stole $94.00.
In addition, we should all demand that California lawmakers who designed AB-109 to help ease prison overcrowding by a federal demand, be amended. This law must allow many of the 8,000 nonviolent non-serious and non-sex offenders who are also “N3” types be considered for transfer to the county level.
Contact the governor’s office today: Governor Jerry Brown c/o State Capital, Suite 1173 Sacramento , CA 95814 Phone: (916) 445-2841