In a recent article published in The Sacramento Bee, former California Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg claimed that under Realignment, the number of people in state prison, on parole, and those held in out-of-state prisons has decreased dramatically without a spike in crime. “A year ago we heard fear-mongering voices warning of dangerous criminals being released and counties too broke to provide jail space, parole officers or programming for realigned offenders,” Goldberg wrote.
The Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation has been tracking new crimes committed by realigned offenders, as well as reports of increased crime by counties across the state. While statewide crime statistics since the October 2011 start of Realignment are not yet available, the news reports compiled by CJLF indicate that crime is increasing and that serious criminals, who should be behind bars, are committing new crimes.
The Los Angeles Times reported in April that only 15 percent of the 6,000 criminals shifted to supervision in Los Angeles County so far had received treatment services. Data compiled by Robert Stickney, Probation’s Director of Executive Support for Los Angeles County, indicates as many as 6 percent of the estimated 6,000 offenders put on post release community supervision in the county have never reported to their probation officer. “The rate is higher than the state’s traditional initial parole absconder rate of 2 percent,” Stickney said.
According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, preliminary reported crime data shows that as of the end of March, serious property crimes reported have increased 6.09 percent countywide, compared to the same time last year.
Between January 1 and March 1 of 2012, 465 inmates were released early from San Bernardino County jails to avoid overcrowding. Riverside County Jails have released over 1,000 inmates early since the beginning of 2012 due to overcrowding as a result of Realignment. The Associated Press reported on May 19 that the jail in San Bernardino County has been forced to release on average 290 offenders a day.
The Victorville Daily Press reported in early April that 12 percent of offenders released to post community supervision in San Bernardino County from October 1 to February 29 had failed to report as directed.
Taft Chief of Police Ed Whiting told the Taft City Council in early April that the shift of inmates under realignment has resulted in an increase in property crimes in the city. Whiting said that there aren’t necessarily more criminals than before, but “that we are arresting the same people over and over again due to 109.” The Chief was referencing AB109, the Public Safety Realignment Act, which took effect last October.
On May 23, the San Bernardino County Sun quoted Fontana Police Chief Rod Jones who said that in the first six months of Realignment—October to March—crimes of burglary, auto theft, larceny, and arson were up 22 percent from the previous six month period, before Realignment began. In that same six-month period, violent crimes such as armed robbery, aggravated assault, murder, and rape were up 13 percent from levels in the previous year.
Shafter Police Chief Greg Richardson told Eyewitness News, “Since AB 109 went into effect, we have an uptick in property crime.” Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson told Sacramento ABC affiliate News 10 in early May that, “Immediately, we’re seeing an increase in property crimes and in violent crimes.”
Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa said property crimes are increasing as criminals are becoming more aware that “the state prison accountability for committing these crimes is gone.”
CBS13 in Sacramento reported May 29 that there have been ten officer-involved shootings in Sacramento County so far this year. For all of 2011, deputies were involved in just six shootings.
One of those shootings occurred earlier this month, when a Chico man, who shot a Sacramento police dog while firing at officers, was then killed by an officer. Lucas Webb had been released from the Butte County Jail because of overcrowding, according to the Chico Enterprise-Record. He had also failed to appear in court twice, and a warrant was out for his arrest when he was killed. He was facing time in prison for the charge of being an ex-felon carrying a deadly weapon. On May 18, Sacramento police identified the car Webb was driving as stolen. When they attempted to pull the car over, Webb and his female accomplice led officers on a chase through a residential area, nearly hitting some children. Webb and the female later abandoned the car. After police spotted Webb in a backyard, he began firing at officers, hitting a police dog.
While the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reports that no inmates have been or will be released early from state prison early due to Realignment, many inmates who would have been supervised by the state on parole are now being released early from overcrowded county jails across the state and committing new crimes.
The Redding Record Searchlight reported May 22 that Dave Nichols, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Division of Adult Parole’s regional director, told Shasta County supervisors about a man who had been arrested and released from jail in Shasta County the same day at least six times since March, mostly for drug-related charges. He had previously molested a 9-year-old girl while high on marijuana, and since returning to Shasta County had solicited local apartment complexes with children in them for landscaping work.
Some criminals, whose most recent conviction was for a property crime, and have been sentenced to county probation rather than state parole, have prior convictions for serious, violent, and sexual felonies. A May 25 Woodland Record story reported that Marty Martinez, a convicted rapist whose most recent felony qualified him for community supervision in Yolo County, was found in possession of pornography and living near a school or playground, in violation of state law.
By requiring counties to keep criminals whose most recent conviction is for a property crime in local jails or treatment programs rather than prison, state officials have “taken the monkey off their back and put it on ours,” said San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore, as reported in The San Diego Union Tribune May 31.
“Politicians like Jackie Goldberg are so out of touch, they can’t see that the Realignment policy they support is turning their neighbors into crime victims,” said Foundation President Michael Rushford.