According to the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, eight months after implementation of the state's Public Safety Realignment law (AB 109), the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is touting its success in reducing the prison population while the public safety consequences are becoming increasingly evident, and more serious.
On May 3, Sacramento ABC affiliate News 10 quoted Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson who said, "Immediately, we're seeing an increase in property crimes and in violent crimes." This comment came after Modesto police officials released a statement about a drug deal that led to four people being shot. According to the statement, one of the suspects was "recently released from state prison under the AB 109 program."
In Woodland, KTXL Fox 40 News reported that on April 21, three men took Antonio Bautista's wallet and cracked the blunt end of a gun against his skull as he parked his truck outside his home. "There have been more people released on the streets that would normally be incarcerated," said Sgt. Victoria Danzl of the Woodland Police Department.
Don Thompson of the Associated Press reported May 1 about Raoul Leyva, who was released by a judge in San Joaquin County after serving two days of a 100-day jail term. He violated his parole for failing to report to his parole agent and failing to register as a sex offender. Twelve days after his early release, Leyva was charged with beating his girlfriend and leaving her hospitalized in critical condition with life-threatening injuries. San Joaquin County Sheriff's Deputy Les Garcia said a court order from the 1980s puts a cap on the population of the San Joaquin County jail. Before realignment was enacted, Leyva would have gone to state prison to serve his sentence for his parole violation. Records show that Leyva has served several prison sentences for convictions that include vehicle theft and possession of a controlled substance for sale. He was required to register as a sex offender for a county conviction of sending material to seduce a minor.
On May 5, The Desert Sun published an article written by Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff Jr., in which he discusses his concerns regarding Realignment. "Our local jails are now holding 138 people sentenced for three years or more. Even worse, the additional influx of inmates normally heading to state prison but now being held locally has caused our local jail to be so badly overcrowded that our federal courts have forced the premature release of more than 1,500 inmates back to our communities because of overcrowding."
On May 1, Corey Pride of the Los Banos Enterprise reported that a woman who was recently sentenced to a year in Merced County Jail for killing a firefighter in a fatal DUI crash will not spend one day of her sentence behind bars. Instead, under Realignment, Amie Chick is eligible for a house-arrest program, and will serve her full sentence at home wearing an electronic monitoring device. According to court documents, Chick had alcohol and marijuana in her system on the night she killed Andrew Maloney, who worked for Cal Fire. He was riding his motorcycle when Chick made a left turn in front of him with her Jeep. Chick may have also been on a cell phone at or near the time of the crash, court records indicate. Merced County Sheriff's spokesman, Deputy Tom MacKenzie, said Chick was sent home due to an effort to lower the combined daily population of Merced County Main Jail and the John Latorraca Correctional Center. "Unfortunately, we have to keep the worst of the worst, and let the best of the worst go," MacKenzie said.
After serving time in state prison, Eric Sosa was released due to the Realignment-created Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS) on March 5 for time served upon completion of his ankle monitoring program. He was arrested in April after leading police on a high speed pursuit after deputies attempted a vehicle enforcement stop. According to a media release from the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office, Sosa was found to be in possession of nearly half an ounce of methamphetamine packaged for sale.
Under Realignment, offenders are defined as non-violent, non-serious, and non-sexual based on their most recent offense, but many have varied criminal records and are being arrested for new crimes. The Victorville Daily Press reported on April 26 that Michael Goode, who was on PRCS in San Bernardino County for a conviction for sale of a handgun to a person under the age of 21, was sentenced to four years in state prison after he pleaded no contest to one count of felony domestic violence for attacking his girlfriend and holding her against her will in a hotel room.
The Calaveras Enterprise reported on April 17 that after Jakob Main, who was on PRCS, failed a drug test, law enforcement officials searched his residence and found more than six grams of methamphetamine packaged for sale and a hypodermic syringe. Superior Court Judge Douglas V. Mewhinney said Main faced four special allegations for prison priors and a special allegation for a prior conviction that involved "aggravated mayhem."
On April 2, the Victorville Daily Press reported that San Bernardino County Sheriff's Hesperia station officials arrested Samuel Ray Castellanos for carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon. Castellanos, who is also an illegal immigrant, was on PRCS for corporal injury on a spouse.
Many offenders placed on PRCS instead of parole are not reporting to their probation officers. The Victorville Daily Press reported April 6 that, of the 2,097 PRCS probationers that were released into San Bernardino County's supervision from October 1 to February 29, probation department spokesman Chris Condon said, "Twelve percent have failed to report as directed." Condon said three percent of the total PRCS population in San Bernardino County have been arrested for new crimes, and an additional 54 offenders have been arrested for violating the terms of their probation.
On April 19, Redding's KRCR TV reported that Ying Vang, who was on Butte County's Most Wanted list and had dropped out of the PRCS program, was arrested for kidnapping, carjacking, criminal threats, felony domestic battery, felon in possession of ammunition, resisting arrest, and possession of methamphetamine for sales.
The CDCR reported that as of April 25, the in-state prison population reached 155% of design bed capacity, which is approximately 124,000 inmates. Approximately 14,000 more inmates still need to be released for the state to reach its final population target of 137.5% of design capacity, or 110,000 inmates, by June, 2013.
“The evidence that the so-called ‘Public Safety Realignment' law is reducing public safety is piling up across California,” said Foundation President Michael Rushford. "As the criminals that this law has dumped back into our neighborhoods are committing new crimes and hurting law-abiding citizens, one wonders whether the Legislative leadership and the Governor are paying attention," he added.