AND INMATE RELEASES
A poll released Wednesday by the San Francisco based Public Policy Institute of California indicates that the fear of crime has increased among Californians along with their concern about local law enforcement’s ability to protect them from the influx of criminals shifted to counties under the Governor’s Realignment law. According to the poll, 57% share this concern including majorities from Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. The poll also confirmed that a majority of Californians are concerned about local crime, particularly blacks and Latinos, of whom 64% considered it a problem.
The Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation has been monitoring crime in California since the Governor’s Realignment law (AB109) took effect in October 2011, in order to determine if the promise by its supporters that crime would not increase is being kept. “What this poll shows is that after 18 months under Realignment, Californians do not support the state’s dumping of felons into their communities as the law requires, and that public concern about crime is on the rise, particularly in minority communities.” said CJLF President Michael Rushford.
The Foundation noted that the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2012 showed increases in all categories of crime in California and particularly property crime, which rose by nearly 7%, while nationally, property crime dropped by 0.9%.
A September 23 report on homicides in Los Angeles by NBC Channel 4 noted that murders in the city are on course to increase for the first time in 8 years. Other California cities have suffered more than Los Angeles. An FBI report on 2012 crime in cities with populations of 100,000 or more found that large California cities suffered a 2.9% increase in violent crime compared to 1.2% nationally. Murders were up 10.5% compared to 1.5% nationally and rape climbed by 6.4% compared to a 0.3% drop nationally.
The news reports of new felonies committed by habitual criminals free on parole, which Realignment defines as “post release community supervision (PRCS),” continue to pile up across the state.
On September 4, 2013 Eureka police responded to a call from a retired Korean War veteran who reported that his car was stolen from the parking lot of a local business. An article in the Times-Standard reported that 38-year-old Michael Podesta, who was free on PRCS under Realignment for a previous burglary charge, was arrested after leading officers on a high-speed chase and charged with receiving/possessing stolen property, possession of a controlled substance, and probation violations. Under Realignment, the most Podesta can receive for these felonies is time in county jail or re-release on PRCS.
On September 19, 2013 police in Santa Barbara arrested 28-year-old Edgar Cordova after authorities were notified that a known gang member was selling narcotics. Robert McCullough of Crime Voice reports that Cordova, who had been released from county jail on PRCS under Realignment, was eventually arrested after police found 18 grams of heroin in his home, along with assorted paraphernalia that is associated with illicit drug sales. Under Realignment, the maximum sentence drug dealers such as Cordova can receive is time in county jail or re-release on PRCS.
On September 17, 2013 Riverside police officers arrested 35-year-old Alvin Johnson for his role in a string of commercial burglaries that have been occurring across the city since May of this year. Police believe that Johnson, along with two other individuals, is responsible for over 60 burglaries of local stores and restaurants. Johnson, who was free on PRCS under Realignment at the time of his arrest, has been charged with multiple counts of burglary. Under Realignment, if Johnson is convicted on all counts, he cannot be sent to state prison.
Police in the San Bernardino County community of Highland arrested 32-year-old Garth Pezant on September 17 after he took off on foot during a routine traffic stop. Doug Saunders of The Sun reports that while detaining Pezant, police located a large amount of methamphetamine, ammunition, and a military-style bullet proof vest complete with a ceramic trauma plate that is “designed to stop large caliber rounds.” Prior to this arrest, Pezant had been free on PRCS and was a documented gang member.
“While our Governor is negotiating with a panel of federal judges to prevent the release of another 9,000 hardened criminals from prison, people across the state are being victimized by criminals already free on the streets because of the Realignment law he signed. The good news is that the public is beginning to realize that this law is jeopardizing their safety,” said Rushford.