The Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation today blamed policies which have reduced the sentences of thousands of repeat criminals for causing increased violence in California, including the murders of police officers in Palm Springs and Los Angeles last week.
On Thursday, October 6, Trenton Trevon Lovell was arrested for the murder of L.A. Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Owen as he responded to a 911 burglary call. According to news reports, Lovell used a stolen handgun to shoot the sergeant in the face, then shot him four more times as he lay bleeding. Lovell has a long criminal record, has served time in prison, and was in a rehabilitation program for injuring someone while driving drunk last year when he murdered Sergeant Owen.
On Saturday, October 8, two Palm Springs officers, responding to a domestic violence call, were shot and killed by habitual felon and gang member John Felix. Felix was wearing body armor when he ambushed 35-year veteran Officer Jose Gilbert Vega and rookie Officer Lesley Zerebny, who just returned to duty after giving birth to a daughter. A third officer shot during the incident received non-life threatening injuries. Felix had served time in prison for attempted murder, and was arrested for resisting arrest in 2013 and for drunk driving in 2014.
The Foundation notes that prior to the adoption of AB109 (Realignment) in 2011 both of these criminals would have been eligible for more time in prison or jail for their recent offenses. The Foundation also cites Proposition 47, adopted by California voters in 2014, for downgrading felonies like drunk driving with injuries and firearm theft to misdemeanors with little or no jail time.
“There is a wave of violence and lawlessness sweeping across California that is impacting every community in the state,” said Foundation President Michael Rushford. “The weakening of sentencing, even for criminals with records of violence, has contributed to the killing of these officers and many of at least 16 other shootings, including 10 murders reported in the news over the past two weeks.”
“Right now, Californians are being asked by our Governor to vote for Proposition 57, another criminal release measure that will make another 20 to 30 thousand habitual felons currently in prison eligible for early release, even if they have prior convictions for murder and rape. Does anybody really believe that releasing more criminals is going to make things better?” added Rushford..
Foundation President Michael Rushford can be reached for comment at (916) 446-0345.