The Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review is scheduled to hold an oversight hearing on California’s Corrections System, “The State of Corrections: An Update on Recent Trends,” today at 10am in Room 4203 of the State Capitol. The agenda includes testimonies from actor Tim Robbins, Secretary of the corrections department, and proponents of sentence reforms; however, there is no formal representation from victims’ advocate groups or police chiefs or sheriffs. The Legislature should hear from experts on the front line like Whittier Chief Jeff Piper and Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell. Please see the Los Angeles Times article below.
To livestream the hearing, please click here.
Police chief says Whittier officer's slaying shows danger of criminal justice reform, but details are unclear
by Richard Winton
Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper says the man suspected of shooting an officer to death on Monday is an example of how statewide efforts to reduce incarceration of certain criminals can have tragic consequences.
“We need to wake up. Enough is enough,” Piper said at an emotional news conference on Monday, the day Officer Keith Boyer was killed. “This is a senseless, senseless tragedy that did not need to be.”
What do we know about the suspect?
Not much. He is 26. Police said he was released from custody early, but they did not provide details on his criminal history or why he was released.
Hours before his run-in with Whittier police, the man is suspected of fatally shooting his 46-year-old cousin in East Los Angeles and stealing his car. The slain man was identified as Roy Torres.
One officer was killed and a second injured in a shootout with a gang member who was wounded, authorities said.
What laws are the chief and other law enforcement officials referring to?
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell pointed to three measures enacted in the last seven years — Propositions 47 and 57 and Assembly Bill 109 — that he said have led to the release of too many criminals without creating a proper safety net of mental health, drug rehabilitation and other services.
“We’re putting people back on the street that aren’t ready to be back on the street,” McDonnell said. He said the county jail system he runs, the largest in the nation, has become a “default state prison.”
Sheriff’s officials have long criticized Proposition 47, which was approved by voters in 2014 and downgraded some drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.
They say AB 109 — which moved state prisoners to local lockups — has pushed lower-level offenders out of custody and onto the streets, offering little deterrent against committing new crimes.
Proposition 57, which passed last year, changed California’s “three strikes” rule and made sentencing more flexible, allowing some prisoners who wouldn’t normally have been eligible for early parole to be considered for release.
Haven’t police blamed Proposition 47 for crime increases?
Yes. LAPD officials and those in other agencies believe the ballot measure is one reason for a rise in crime, but Proposition 47 backers dispute that.