LOS ANGELES – A group of law enforcement officials gathered in Los Angeles Thursday to blast a measure on the November ballot billed as an effort to keep “non-violent” convicts out of prison, saying the proposition will put dangerous people back on the streets.
“Do we really need more parolees and hard-core criminals on the streets? That’s what Proposition 57 does,” said Brian Moriguchi, president of the Professional Peace Officers Association of Los Angeles.
The proposition, backed heavily by Gov. Jerry Brown, would allow parole consideration for people convicted of “non-violent” felonies after serving the minimum amount of time required as part of their sentence and authorize the awarding of sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior and education. It would also give judges the final say over whether juvenile offenders at least 14 years old should be prosecuted as adults.
Brown and other backers of the measure insist it will put an emphasis on rehabilitation, reducing the likelihood of felons to commit new crimes. They also deny that it will put violent offenders back on the streets, and even non-violent offenders eligible under the proposition would have to prove they are rehabilitated and do not present a danger to the public before they are released.
But Moriguchi and other officials — including Sheriff Jim McDonnell, District Attorney Jackie Lacey and county Supervisor Mike Antonovich — said the measure is essentially an effort by the state to relieve its prison- overcrowding problem at the expense of community safety.
“Some of the crimes that are involved that people would be eligible for early release from prison include rape by intoxication, rape of an unconscious person, human trafficking involving a sex act with minors, drive by shooting, assault with a deadly weapon, taking a hostage, domestic violence involving trauma, supplying firearms to a gang member, lewd acts upon a child, a hate crime causing physical injury, failing to register as a sex offender, arson including great bodily injury, and discharging a firearm on school grounds… These are very violent crimes,” Sheriff McDonnell said at the press conference Thursday. [View video from the press conference here.]
Moriguchi said the recent killings of Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Owen and Palm Springs police Officers Lesley Zerebny and Jose Gilbert Vega were carried out by parolees.
Antonovich said Proposition 57 will follow the path of legislation known as AB 109, which redirected some low-level offenders to county jails instead of state prisons, often leading to them serving less time than they otherwise would. He said that legislation was also expected to apply to only “non- violent” offenders.
“What happened? Seventy percent are either high-risk or very high risk,” Antonovich said.
“It’s time that we wake up and get realistic,” he said. “We need to protect our communities, we need to protect our people. … We need to unite to return this state to a Golden State where it’s safe to walk the streets instead of having fear where people in the community are now having to buy private security to supplement the local law enforcement to protect their property and protect their lives and families.”
Supporters of the measure deny allegations that the measure would result in felons being automatically released from prison or authorize parole for violent offenders.
“Overcrowded and unconstitutional conditions led the U.S. Supreme Court to order the state to reduce its prison population,” Brown and other supporters wrote in its ballot argument in favor of the measure. “Now, without a common-sense, long-term solution, we will continue to waste billions and risk a court-ordered release of dangerous prisoners. This is an unacceptable outcome that puts Californians in danger — and this is why we need Prop 57.”
Read more about Proposition 57 at http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/en/propositions/57/.