Yesterday, I had the honor of speaking at a Criminal Justice Legal Foundation (CJLF) luncheon in Los Angeles about my candidacy for Attorney General in 2018 and more importantly my vision for this great state when it comes to not only preventing crime, but also getting tough on those who commit crime. I spoke about the enormous changes that have been made to California law in the past five years and how I have witnessed firsthand the negative effects these changes have had on law enforcement and victims.
In October 2011, Assembly Bill 109 was enacted which, as many of us already know by now, shifted thousands of convicts who would have normally gone to state prison into county jails instead. While this was a move designed to help the state comply with a federal mandate to reduce prison overcrowding, it only created more problems at the local level because in many cases, the county jails were filled as well. This resulted in early release for several inmates, who should have otherwise been in jail serving time for the crimes they committed.
The "non-violent, non-serious felons,” as they have been labelled in the state legislation, now serve little, if any, jail time locally as our jails are full. There is no more room at the inn and these criminals know it. We have also witnessed a fifty percent increase in assaults on our deputies. Make no doubt, this was directly related to housing criminals that used to go to state prison.
I do believe in prevention and rehabilitation and my office has an excellent partnership with our Sheriff and Probation Departments. But there is a specific population preying on law-abiding citizens and we must hold them responsible. Simply put, these criminals need to know that crime doesn’t pay. They need to know that they will be held accountable.
Just as we were dealing with the ramifications of AB 109 and realignment, California voters passed Proposition 47, also known as The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. The idea was to reduce incarceration times for nonviolent offenders and focus more on rehabilitation, while again easing overcrowding in the jails. Proposition 47—although well-intended—was a poorly drafted and heavily funded initiative that misled voters and failed to point out its consequences. The proposition promised to channel funds from prisons to schools and rehabilitation programs by reducing crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. But supporters failed to point out that there were already several, successful rehabilitative programs in place at the county level, and that District Attorneys already had discretion when it came to referring first-time offenders to diversion programs.
As it stands now, certain felons are essentially being handed a "get out of jail" free card. I have said this many times, but the pursuit of everyday life as Californians is not a board game but real life.
Enough is enough. It’s time that we get tough on crime again and make victims and citizens of this great State the priority, not criminals!