On 3/16/11, the California state legislature votedÂ to move Assembly Bill 109 forward, which includes a public safetyÂ “realignment” proposalÂ intended toÂ shift the burden of incarceration andÂ parole supervision from the state to local counties, all in an effort to balance the budget.
While the Brown administration claims this plan will not jeopardize public safety and would actually increase “local control,” it is inÂ truth a scheme to release prisoners early, keep repeating offenders in our communities and pass the state’s budget woes on to our counties.Â And as this 3,000 page proposal was only made available last Thursday, there simply will not be enough time for law enforcement, lawmakers and the general public to study and comment on the legislation before a vote in the Senate and Assembly.
OneÂ of the elements of theÂ proposal includes shifting approximately 38,000 offenders in the first year (16,000 from prison and 22,000 from parole) onto local public safety officials and local courts. By 2014, This number would grow to 68,000 (40,000 from prison and 28,000 from parole).
Unfortunately, the governor’s proposalÂ makes no mention of additional resources being made available to law enforcement to handle the vast amount of these unrehabilitated offendersÂ into our neighborhoods.Â Local sheriffs are already burdened with their own jail and inmate housing challenges.
The governor’s proposal also includes a resurrection of a failed policy idea repealed last year due to public outrage, which involves shortening the sentences of many felons and leaving many more parolees without supervision. In addition, it is expected thatÂ approximatelyÂ 40,000 felons would gain the right to vote because convicted felons not housed in state prison, according to currentÂ election code, have the right to vote.Â This proposal says nothing about ammending the election code.
Another troublesome aspect of the bill is that it will impose a maximum disposition of 14 days in county jail for a Parole Unit sanction or 30 days in county jail imposed by a court sanction.Â Currently, child sexual abuse offenders receive a parole violation of 10-12 months for having contact with children.
Proponents of the bill state that the lower risk parolees do not require supervision, however the determining factor for “low-risk” raises concern as it is based on their current prison offense, not their history.Â So repeat offenders of violent crimes, who are currently serving on a petty theft charge, would be considered low-risk under this proposal.Â Domestic violence offenses are not considered serious or violent felonies.
The governor’s proposal puts all of us at risk by placing an overwhelming burden on local courts and law enforcement agencies who simply will not have the resources to supervise, manage or rehabilitate this huge influx of criminals.
California is not alone in having to make some difficult choices to resolve budget issues, however those choices should not jeopardize our public safety and our inherent right to live free of fear of becoming victims of these unsupervised criminals.
This proposal must be rejected if we are to keep our families and communities safe.
We urge everyone to call, write and email their state senators and assembly members and demand that they vote “no” on AB109 or any other parole realignment proposal.Â State representatives can be found at:
Please pass this critical message along via the social media and email links below.Â Thank you!