And people are still being brutally victimized and sometimes murdered by criminals released early due to realignment, as summarized by the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.
“With the adoption of AB109 in April 2011, California’s Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown announced that the State would no longer take responsibility for criminals convicted of roughly 500 of what they defined as “low level” felonies, such as assault, spousal abuse, commercial burglary, drug dealing, identity theft, and auto theft. AB109 (which the Governor called Public Safety Realignment) prohibits prison sentences for these offenders. Instead the law requires counties to sentence them to terms in overcrowded local jails, or a combination of jail time and probation, home detention, or a treatment program. At the same time, criminals released from prison, whose most recent felony was one of these new “low level” crimes, are automatically placed on county probation rather than the more intense supervision under state parole. This includes criminals whose record of prior crimes includes child kidnapping, child sexual assault, home invasion, and murder.
“As a result, repeat felons are being cyclically arrested and released much earlier and with much less supervision than they would have been prior to Realignment. This continues until they commit a violent or serious crime such as rape, robbery, aggravated assault, or murder, leaving victims permanently scarred and sometimes killed. Since March of last year, the Sacramento-based CJLF has been compiling news stories of crimes committed by criminals released under Realignment. In February, the Foundation also reported on the FBI Preliminary crime statistics for 2012, which showed sharp increases for the first time in over 15 years in all categories of crime in California. That report is here.
“According to San Bernardino County Probation Department Spokesman Chris Condon, the way offenders are classified as non-sexual, non-violent, and non-serious is an issue. “The most recent offense is taken into consideration for sentencing, not past offenses, which poses a problem all its own. . . “Three out of 10 people coming to us had serious violent felonies prior to their last offense.” (Daily Press, March 30).
“Sex offender Jerome DeAvila was arrested February 26, 2013, for the rape, robbery, and murder of his 76-year-old grandmother in Stockton. Her body was found dumped in a wheelbarrow in her backyard. DeAvila had been in and out of jail about a dozen times over the previous 12 months for parole violations. His most recent release was on February 20, 2013, after being arrested for violating his parole by not registering as a sex offender. Despite a 30-day jail sentence, he was released one day after pleading guilty due to a court cap which mandates releases when jails reach their population capacity. According to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, DeAvila was released under AB109. (The Stockton Record, March 1). Records from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office indicate that DeAvila was released within 24 hours of being arrested in almost all of his nearly dozen arrests in the past nine months. (The Record Searchlight, March 17). San Joaquin County Chief Probation Officer Stephanie James said, “With so many people getting released early, jail is not a meaningful consequence.” (The Stockton Record, March 12).