Sacramento’s Flawed Public Safety Policy Scheme

Media Advisory

Sacramento’s Flawed Public Safety Policy Scheme

California may be known as the Golden State, but when it comes to criminal behavior, crime rates are on the rise and unfortunately, the public safety policies of Sacramento have failed to address the issues.

News headlines in recent weeks show a sharp increase in property crimes and parole violations just two years after the enactment of AB-109 - Gov. Jerry Brown’s “realignment” program. Under this “realignment” program, dangerous criminals who would otherwise be incarcerated in state prisons are being released back into communities earlier due to shortened incarceration terms.  Due to the uptick in crime since the law’s enactment, probation and law enforcement agencies have been burdened with keeping track of additional violent felons in California.  As such, Californians are concerned about the early release of state prisoners into their communities.

The Stockton bank robbery that occurred on July 23, 2014, is yet another reminder that policies like AB 109 sound great on paper, but when practically applied, fail to protect families and communities. Three armed men entered the Bank of the West branch and took three women hostage, two bank employees and one customer, according to police.  Misty Holt-Singh – a 41-year old mother of two –was shot and killed as a result of the robbery and gunfight between police and her captures.  (It was later determined that shots from police weapons were the ultimate cause of her death.)

The murder of innocent citizens like Misty Holt-Singh in Stockton reminds us that on any given day, most laws passed by Sacramento to “restrict” criminals ultimately do nothing to stop those who would otherwise be criminals who are intent on doing harm.

It is unknown if those perpetrating the crimes in Stockton were career criminals recently released as a result of AB109, but without a doubt, we have crimes being committed every day by those who have been released early as a result of AB 109.  

The Stockton bank robbery, however, is not the only indication of public safety failure on the part of AB 109.  In Los Angeles County, the whereabouts of approximately 2,000 probationers is currently unknown, according to county probation officials.  These potentially high-risk offenders account for more than 20 percent of offenders in the county included in Gov. Jerry Brown’s “realignment” program.

Asked about the net effect of AB 109, Dr. Cindy Burke, director of criminal justice research at the San Diego Association of Governments, suggested that “because AB-109 keeps non-violent offenders out of prison, it has led to overcrowding in county jails.  Our local jails before AB-109 were under capacity. Now . . . we're at 100% capacity.”   One of the principle policy goals of AB-109 was to stop the overcrowding trend in prisons throughout the state.  At least in some areas, it appears that the law is producing a counterintuitive effect.

Under Brown’s program, over 3,000 criminals who would normally be in state prison have been released into California communities.  FBI crime statistics for 2012 demonstrated a dangerous increase in crime throughout California in every major category.  With 70% of criminals likely to re-offend, the spike in crime is an unfortunate but predictable result of more criminals on the street.  Ironically, State Senator Bob Wieckowski voted to pass AB-109 while advocating for additional public safety measures.  AB-109, however, is clearly counterintuitive to the goal of public safety.

Similar to AB-109, SB-210 – a bill which passed the State Senate and currently sits on the Assembly Floor – would call for the release of additional non-violent offenders.  This would only exacerbate the flawed policy scheme of AB-109.  SB-210 is disguised as a bill which would give local governments and municipalities additional monies to determine pretrial release, but in reality, the bill will do nothing more than release additional prisoners at the expense of California’s public safety and tax dollars. 

AB-109 and SB-210 allow individuals whom are arrested for committing crimes to be released from jail via “pre-trial release" without having to post a bail bond. SB-210 promotes the use of an assessment tool to determine the likelihood that those arrested for crimes will attend their scheduled court dates. This pretrial tool has proven to be a failure.  In a “May 2014 Summary of Warrant and Bail Bond Report” compiled by using data from the Sacramento County Sherrif’s Department and Sacramento Superior Court shows that, “that 99% of the warrants in the system result from “unsecured releases”, via an “Own Recognizance” or “Promise to Appear” release. This compared to the less than 1%, that are secured with a bail bond and a bail agent that financially guarantees the appearance of the defendant.”  According to data received from the Sacramento County Court, SB210 will guarantee that many arrested for crimes will never show up in court.

Similarly, what was once seen as a deterrent of crime, the Death Penalty has now been ruled “unconstitutional” by a California Court.  Of course, when you have a punishment that is never implemented, how much of a deterrent can it be?

On July 16th, a federal judge struck down capital punishment in California for being too slow and capricious.  According to The Economist, of the more than 900 people California has sentenced to death since 1978, only 13 have been executed. The last one died in 2006. With Federal Judge Cormac Carney’s ruling, a punishment that is very rarely implemented has been claimed unfit.  The real question here is whether the public can continue to trust the flawed judgment in public safety policies of Sacramento.

Notably, Peter Kuo is the only candidate running for SD 10 willing to recognize that public safety policies of Sacramento have failed.  SD 10 needs leadership that will take a stand on public safety issues impacting thousands of citizens – not another politician to blanket the real issues with ineffective policies.  Peter Kuo has effectively executed that leadership.

Peter Kuo is a Farmers insurance agent, entrepreneur, and a candidate for California’s 10th senate district. He lives in Santa Clara with his wife and three children.

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