Release Date:  September 24, 2012
Contact:  Michael Rushford
(916) 446-0345

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The California-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation has been tracking crime across the state since the Governor’s Realignment law (AB109) took effect last October. The law requires that felons released from prison be placed on Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS), rather than state-managed parole. The law also prevents habitual criminals convicted of new felonies such as assault, auto theft, drug dealing, identity theft, fraud, and commercial burglary from receiving prison sentences, instead requiring that they receive sentences in overcrowded county jails, probation or “treatment” in county-managed rehabilitation programs. Over the past six months, local police agencies, and news stories have reported hundreds of incidents of violent and serious crimes committed by criminals released from state prison and placed on PRCS or convicted of what Realignment defines as a “low level” felony and left in the community.

According to the Fresno Police Department, the following murders, committed by realigned criminals on PRCS, have been investigated by the homicide unit:

—25-year-old Arthur Lee Howlin was arrested for the murder of 45-year-old Tina Lafaye Banks on April 27, 2012. During this incident, Howlin allegedly shot four other people that were near Banks. Howlin was placed on PRCS on November 13, 2011, for resisting or obstructing an executive (police) officer in performance of his duties.

—28-year-old Rocky Phelps was arrested for the murder of 52-year-old George Gowanlock on May 11, 2012. Phelps was placed on PRCS on January 3, 2012, for possession of stolen property.

—30-year-old Robert Alexander Cadena was arrested for the murder of 25-year-old Adam Garcia on May 19, 2012. Cadena was placed on PRCS on November 24, 2009, for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

—29-year-old Miguel Payan Jr. was arrested for the June 4 murder of 27-year-old Jeremiah Cortez. Payan was placed on PRCS on May 12, 2012, for auto theft.

—27-year-old Dexter Murphy (Brazeal) was arrested for the murder of Wayne Devine on July 7, 2012. Murphy (Brazeal) was placed on PRCS on April 15, 2012, for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

—34-year-old Gabriel Garcia was arrested for involvement in the stabbing and murder of 30-year-old Brandon Cruz on July 15, 2012. Garcia was placed on PRCS on December 5, 2011, for domestic violence.

—On September 10, Fresno police arrested Michael Crockell for the stabbing murder of a 46-year-old woman, the stabbing attack on her female roomate and a responding police officer. Crockell is a repeat felon, free in the community on PRCS.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters, "it’s extremely disturbing for us in law enforcement and within the community to see that individuals that are categorized as non-violent, non-serious under AB109, have come into a community and committed this many violent crimes, and obviously somehow, someway we’ve got to do something different from what we’re seeing under AB109."

According to Bakersfield police and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, property crime is up. Specifically, larceny in Bakersfield is up by 16% in the city, burglary is up 21% in the county, and auto theft is up by 41% in the city limits. (KERO 23 News, August 22).

According to Redding Police Chief Robert Paoletti, from January to June, Redding had 352 violent crimes in 2012, 9 more than last year. The main cause for the increase was robberies. Redding officers made an increased 264 arrests in the first 6 months of 2012 (totaling 3,953), and calls for service dramatically rose from 40,966 to 44,696 in 2012. (The Record Searchlight, August 20).

In San Diego, police have reported an increase in total violent crime. Murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults are up by 12.6% between January and May 2012, compared to last year. (Voice of San Diego, July 19).

According to San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne, there has been an over 130% increase in gang homicides in the first 6 months of 2012. Specifically, there were 14 gang-related murders in 2012, and 6 during the same period in 2011. That is a 133% increase. (Voice of San Diego, August 13).

San Diego "police argue their resources—especially staffing—have become stretched too thin and crime is getting out of their control." (Voice of San Diego, July 18).

"When people are being murdered by criminals, who would have been in state prison if not for Realignment, who should Californians hold responsible, besides the murderers themselves?," asked Foundation President Michael Rushford. "Controlling majorities in both houses of the Legislature passed AB109 with virtually no input from local law enforcement, and the Governor signed it into law. These deaths are on their hands," said Rushford.

Foundation President Michael Rushford can be reached for comment at 916-446-0345.