|FBI REPORT RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT CALIFORNIA SENTENCING REFORMS
Statistics from the FBI, documenting crimes committed in the first six months of 2015, indicate that California is experiencing significant increases in both violent and property crime, far above the national average.
The just-released FBI Preliminary Uniform Crime Report, which counts crimes in cities with populations of 100,000 or more, showed a 1.7% increase in violent crime and a 4.2% drop in property crime nationally, from January through June of 2015. The same report found that violent crime spiked by 12.9% and property crime increased by 9.2% in California’s largest cities.
“Last year, 73% of California’s largest cities had increases in violent crime, 71% had increases in property crime, and 89% saw increases in stolen vehicles,” said Criminal Justice Legal Foundation President Michael Rushford.
According to the Foundation, these preliminary numbers along with a recent Reuters report indicating that California is actually spending billions more on prisons than before enactment of sentencing reforms such as, AB109 (Public Safety Realignment) and Proposition 47 (The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act), suggest that the promises made by Governor Brown and others that the new laws would save tax dollars and reduce crime have not been kept.
AB109, a 425-page bill, was adopted in the state legislature in April 2011 by a party-line vote without committee hearings and signed into law by Governor Brown. Supporters claimed that the new law was necessary to comply with a court-ordered reduction of the state prison population and would also create a more fair criminal justice system where non-serious, non-violent offenders could remain in communities for rehabilitation and treatment rather than warehoused behind bars. Roughly 30,000 prison inmates have been released under this law and they cannot be returned to prison for convictions of the most common theft and drug-related felonies and assaults.
Proposition 47, a ballot measure proposed by the American Civil Liberties Union and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, was adopted by California voters in November 2014. Proponents, funded with nearly $6 million in out-of-state contributions, ran a slick campaign claiming that the measure was supported by law enforcement and would prevent low-level drug users and thieves from becoming hardened criminals by reducing several felonies, including firearm theft and drug possession, to misdemeanors and providing funding for rehabilitation and treatment programs. In fact, every professional law enforcement organization in the state opposed the measure, but with little money to mount a campaign, there was no organized opposition.
“Many law enforcement leaders saw this coming and warned the Governor, the legislature, and the public that dumping habitual felons back into communities and keeping them there would be both expensive and dangerous,” said Rushford. “Now, law-abiding Californians are paying the price both physically and financially. I will be very surprised if the Governor even mentions this during his state of the state speech this afternoon,” he added.
CJLF President Michael Rushford is available for comment at (916) 446-0345.
Criminal Justice Legal Foundation 2131 L Street, Sacramento, CA 95816 * (916) 446-0345 * Fax (916) 446-1194 Web page: http://www.cjlf.org * Blog: http://www.crimeandconsequences.com