Political experts including California Governor Jerry Brown cannot see that, playing musical chairs with criminals will not work in the short run. This shortsighted approach to a federal court order to release 33,000 inmates over the next two years also jeopardizes a long-term solution to this state’s overcrowded 33 prisons.
The new California law AB-109 or “Realignment Law”, shifts responsibility to incarcerate or monitor some current state prisoners and future redefine low-level felons to the 58 counties of this state. This plan and law is so convoluted that California is going to lose track of some dangerous people, way before AB-109 actually has a chance to work.
This Associated Press article reveals a good number of felony convictions that will shift to the county level for sentencing responsibility. Some critics would argue that these crimes are both serious and violent crimes. “Involuntary manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, killing or injuring a police officer while resisting arrest, participating in a lynching, possession of weapons of mass destruction, possessing explosives, threatening a witness or juror, and using arson or explosives to terrorize a health facility or church. Assault, battery, statutory rape and sexual exploitation by doctors or psychotherapists are also covered by the prison realignment law and carry sentences that will be served in a county jail instead of state prison.”
Do to poor planning by Gov. Brown, former governor Schwarzenegger and the legislature, this train called “Realignment”, has left the station with a real chance of derailing.
To assure the public that only “Low-level” offenders will be sent back to the counties is one thing. However, to move the line of what is considered a low-level offence to include vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, killing or injuring a police officer while resisting arrest, arson or explosives to terrorize a health facility or church and sexual exploitation by doctors or psychotherapists is sabotage of a federal court order, in my opinion.
At the same time, three strikers have been sent to State prison for a minimum of 25 years each offense for petty crimes involving stealing “Cookies”or “Children’s videos”, writing a bad check for “$94.00” or cheating on a “Written driving test” to name a few of the 8,000 nonviolent convictions. AB-109 does nothing for these nonviolent. California has a lot of nerve to redefine nonviolent or non serious while these people rot in our overcrowded prisons.
A better solution to the governor’s AB-109 would be to come up with a better plan, while the current one is being implemented.
For starters, the 650 or so inmates being transferred as October 1, 2011 to San Francisco County for instance should be immediately offered the opportunity to clean up the city at a minimum of $12.00 an hour. In doing the math, 650 individuals working four hours a day for the next year at a rate of $12.00 an hour comes to $8,112,000 and much cleaner streets.
Under Governor Brown’s plan, 650 coming back to SF County will also receive a little more than $5.5 million from the state and according to the mayor’s budget; it allocates an additional $5 million for this “Realignment.” There are administrative costs but there is also the fact that county officials have expressed in an earlier public safety meeting chaired by Supervisor R. Mirkarimi that the money from the state is not nearly enough to handle the task of county jail, mental health, rehabilitation, probation and GPS monitoring.
Having ex-cons get paid to clean up after the law-abiding citizens who will not clean up after themselves is in no way a 21st century “chain gang”, however, I would argue, so what if it is?
As for redefining what is nonviolent or non-serious, I could be wrong but stealing cookies and cheating on a driving test, nonviolent, non-serious. Killing or injuring a police officer while resisting arrest, violent and serious.
Judge Judy would say of California Lawmakers: “You do not know if you are on foot or horseback.”