Responding to the numerous incidents of innocent Californians becoming victims of crime as a result of a mass influx of criminals into their communities, Senate and Assembly Republicans today unveiled a package of reforms that they say will fix some of the serious flaws in Governor Brown’s public safety realignment law that are putting people at risk.
“The anticipated dire consequences of realignment – from the potential escalation in lower-level crimes like home burglaries to the early release of dangerous felons from overcrowded county jails – are sadly a reality,” said Senator Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, who was former chairman of the Board of Prison Terms. “Criminals now face diminished to no consequences for their continued victimization of innocent citizens. Convicted felons must know that there are consequences for continuing to victimize. The absence of consequences does not promote rehabilitation.”
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones stated, “Realignment, hastily conceived and rushed to implementation, has caused significant hardship on the already strained county jails, and has impacted the level of service that we have been able to provide. We can make realignment work in California, but the time for introspection and reform is now. Every day we wait places law enforcement agencies—and the public they serve—at risk.”
GOP lawmakers said that early figures and reports from individual jurisdictions show that Californians are less safe today because of the Governor’s public safety realignment law. According to figures from the FBI, crime rates in California skyrocketed between the period from January to June 2011 and January to June 2012, just as the realignment law was starting to be implemented. Murder and rape crimes each increased nearly 8 percent, while burglary and motor vehicle theft each increased more than 10 percent. Comparatively, crime rates in other states and nationally either decreased or remained relatively flat.
Republicans said their measures were narrowly crafted and focused on solving the problems that have been experienced by communities under the Governor’s public safety realignment law since it was first implemented in October 2011. Republicans have authored proposals to:
- Help law enforcement keep closer tabs on dangerous offenders out on the streets;
- Increasing penalties against criminals who shouldn’t have guns;
- Provide funding fairness for local governments; and
- Ensure that sex offenders, dangerous criminals and repeat felons serve their time in state prison.
Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully states, “Realignment has fundamentally impacted the safety of our communities by releasing prison inmates to neighborhoods with little or no supervision. It is a public safety issue that is resulting in increased crime and therefore victims. This law limits accountability and consequences for criminals and creates further risk to public safety by releasing them back into our community to commit more crimes.”
Last week, Governor Brown acknowledged that there were flaws with his public safety realignment plan, stating that, “Yeah, we make mistakes, but we correct them as we go.” Many Democrats in the Legislature have also voiced their concerns with realignment and are calling for reforms to fix this misguided law. Republican lawmakers said that they had already attracted Democrat support for some of their reform ideas, and hope to work with them to attract bipartisan support to pass the changes necessary to protect our communities.
Republicans said that advocates for public safety and crime victims were strongly supporting their realignment reform package, calling them necessary steps to protect citizens and ensure justice is served for victims and their families.
“If it weren't for realignment, my daughter would be living her life normally right now. If it's the last thing I do, to my last breath I will work to see that Realignment is changed,” said Diana Muñoz, mother of Brandy Arreola.
Brandy was the victim of a brutal domestic violence attack in 2012. Her attacker, a former boyfriend, had been arrested the month prior to the attack for violating parole and for failing to register as a sex offender. He had been arrested multiple times since 2004. He was sentenced to 100 days in jail, but served just two days due to overcrowding in the local jail. Two weeks later, out on the streets, he would brutally attack his girlfriend. Absent the Governor’s public safety realignment plan, GOP lawmakers said the alleged attacker would have been back in prison as a result of his parole violation and Brandy would be leading a normal and healthy life today.
AB 109 victim Brandy Arreola with her mother, Diana, appeared at a press conference with lawmakers as they proposed reforms to fix flaws with the Governor’s realignment law.