In October, California marked the one year anniversary of the implementation of AB109, the Governor's Public Safety Realignment law. The purpose of the law was to reduce the state prison population and state correction's budget by shifting responsibility of criminals released from prison from state-funded parole to county probation. The law also excludes from state prison most felons, who violate the conditions of parole or are convicted of property crimes, some drug offenses, and crimes such as spousal abuse or assault. Courts are required to sentence these criminals to time in local jails, treatment programs, or probation. Over the past year, the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation has been tracking the effect of Realignment on crime levels, sentencing, and local jail population. Since March 2012, the Foundation has reported its findings to the California media and to concerned members of the state legislature, law enforcement leaders, and crime victims groups.
"The message on the streets in California communities has been consistent. After over a decade of declining crime rates, the environment has changed dramatically and Realignment is the cause," said Foundation President Michael Rushford.
South Pasadena Police Chief Joseph Payne said via a Nixle community message, "In one stroke of the pen, Governor Brown and the legislature . . . have put our communities at greater risk. . . . Realignment is flawed, broken, and never should have seen the light of day. It was passed by a soft-on-crime legislature and governor with little debate and even less input by police chiefs. It is intended to save the state money by shifting the cost of housing prisoners to local governments." (Pasadena Star News, September 29).
San Bernardino County Sheriff's Lieutenant Rick Roelle said, "Crime is up and it's because of AB 109" (Daily Press, October 6).
San Bernardino County Probation Department Supervisor Carl Landry said, "If they're only looking into their latest conviction, you could potentially have people on community supervision who have a murder in their background." (Contra Costa Times, September 30).
On September 24, Pedro Rivera, a repeat felon on Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS) entered his ex-girlfriend's home, told her he had a gun, and ordered her to get into his car. When she resisted, Rivera pulled a knife and wrestled her to the ground. In fear of her life, she got into the car but she managed to jump out in a North Hollywood parking lot and escaped. After she notified the police, Glendale officers obtained a warrant and arrested Rivera for kidnapping. Rivera was considered a low-level criminal despite a criminal history that included his serving six years in prison for assault. Rivera had also been convicted of driver's license violations, being drunk in public, being under the influence of a controlled substance, and spousal abuse. His arrest record included methamphetamine possession, driving under the influence, false imprisonment, mayhem, robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon. (The Glendale News Press, September 25).
Of the 39 murders in Fresno by mid-September, nearly 25% of them were committed by those on PRCS in accordance with AB109. (KGPE CBS 47 News, September 19).
Fresno Police Chief Dyer says, "Obviously what we are seeing is individuals that are on post release supervision that are very violent, very serious and willing to take another human being's life." (KMPH Fox 26 News, September 10).
In Oakland, crime has gone up 20% in the last year. Councilwoman Jane Brunner said, "I've lived in this city for 40 years. Crime is off the hook right now." (SF Gate, October 17). This includes a dramatic increase in homicides. By early October, murders had increased by 11% with 90 homicides compared to 81 last year. By mid-October, the murder count went up to 100. (Nixle, Oakland Police Department, Office Of The Chief, October 2).
On October 17, Oakland City Council Candidate Dan Kalb was robbed at gunpoint after attending a neighborhood crime prevention council meeting. Kalb had just gotten out of his car and was gathering things to carry inside when he felt something lightly poke his ribs. Kalb turned around and saw a robber with a gun pointed at him who demanded his iPhone. After the assailant told him to run, Kalb immediately went home and called the police. (SF Gate, October 18). This occurred on the day after the Oakland Police Chief reported that crime in the city has increased by 20% compared to last year. (SF Gate, October 17).
The North County Times (Oct. 1) reported that, as of August, crime was increasing in San Diego County for the first time in years. More than 2,000 prisoners are now on probation in San Diego County as a result of AB109. (KPBS News, September 28).
San Diego criminal Joseph Todd Hall, was arrested in January for killing his brother. Hall had been released under AB109 despite his criminal history that includes firearm possession as a felon and grand theft auto. There have also been five other criminals released under Realignment arrested on attempted murder charges, including a man who allegedly carjacked and stabbed one member of an Escondido family in the chest. (UT San Diego, September 29).
Robert Lawrence Perrin of Highland, a criminal placed on PRCS after serving 13 years in prison for murder, was arrested September 12 on suspicion of kidnapping, robbery, being a felon in possession of a firearm, violating his probation and possessing stolen property. Perrin and an accomplice kidnapped a man in Redlands, drove him at gunpoint to an ATM, and demanded he withdraw enough money to pay off Perrin's debt. The man did not have enough in his account, so Perrin robbed him of the money he did have and fled the scene. "Redlands Police Chief Mark Garcia says Perrin's arrest highlights the burden that AB 109 or California's Realignment Plan places on local law enforcement agencies." (Redlands Daily Facts, September 14).
In the City of Los Angeles, 3,512 criminals have been released on PRCS. Serious crime has increased in the city by 15% with violent crime up 18% by September, compared to last year. Los Angeles Police Department's Central Division Officials report that since the implementation of AB109, the volume of individuals being arrested multiple times in short periods of time has increased dramatically. Central Area Captain Horace Frank states that in all of 2011 there were about 802 people with multiple arrests in Downtown Los Angeles, while there had already been 646 in the first four months of 2012. (LA Downtown News, September 4).
According to the Los Angeles Probation Department, 20% of AB109 probationers released in the county reoffended. Only about 20% of those released showed up for required rehabilitation services. The city had flash-incarcerated 1,796 offenders as of mid-August. (LA Downtown News, September 4).
"Victoria Simon, Executive Director of Skid Row-based drug, alcohol, and mental health treatment provider Project 180, said that only about 55% of the AB 109 offenders referred to Project 180 ever show up, and just 60% of those individuals follow the prescribed treatment plan. She said she sees few consequences for those who walk away. Sometimes . . . probation does little follow-up." (LA Downtown News, September 4).
L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley says Governor Brown misled the state about the intent of Realignment. "It wasn't about public safety. It was not about rehabilitation, even though [officials] claimed it was. It was about money, so this is blood money, because there will be blood as a result of individuals who should be in prison not being in prison." (KPCC News, September 21).
LAPD Sgt. Jeff Nuttall with the Woodland Hills station says his team has come across instances where Realignment probationers have been booked for as many as 31 previous felonies. (Contra Costa Times, September 30).
Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Michel Moore reports that the city has had 6 murders and 11 attempted murders committed by criminals on PRCS. Among other criminals in Los Angeles currently on PRCS, 2,500 were rearrested for new crimes and 500 can no longer be located. Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine said statistics for downtown Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Fresno all confirm "Crime appears to be on the increase. It's frightening." (Pasadena Star News, October 4).
According to Los Angeles County Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers, only 1% of the 9,750 parolees realigned from state to local supervision since October 1, 2011, are at low-risk of reoffending. However, 59% are at high-risk. (Baldwin Park Patch, October 10).
The Bakersfield police chief and the Kern County district attorney attribute the 6% increase in crime between October to June from 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 to the 2,000 inmates transferred into the county, double what the state originally expected. Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green says the increase in crime is ". . . not good. It's a grim picture." Green adds, "The jail has become synonymous, at least in this county, with a revolving door, due to realignment." According to the Kern County Probation Office, 500 of the 2,000 PRCS have reoffended. (KGET TV 17 News, September 19).
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said, "Since realignment, early releases from county jail have increased by 22 percent. Our local crime rate is also on the increase since the implementation of prison realignment." KEYT News reports, "Violent crimes have gone up 8.7 percent and property crime is up 28.3 percent just in the Sheriff's Department jurisdiction." (KEYT News, October 2).
According to Newport Beach Police Chief Jay Johnson, "Since its implementation we've already seen an increase in crime in every city around us . . . Every police chief I have talked to say it's a result of AB 109." (Newport Beach Patch, August 27).
Ventura County Probation Director Mark Varela reports in the first 11 months of AB109, 463 offenders have been realigned in the county. Of those, 81 have committed 175 new crimes and have been rearrested, 200 have been referred for alcohol or drug treatment, 129 for mental health treatment and 204 reported themselves as homeless upon release from jail. (Ventura County Star, September 11).
"Those legislators who voted to force Realignment on California, voted to increase crime and crime victims. Every Assembly and Senate District in this state has innocent people who have been robbed, hurt or killed by this incredibly irresponsible law," said Rushford.