Release Date:  June 19, 2013
Contact:  Michael Rushford
(916) 446-0345

Bookmark and Share

Since the Governor’s Realignment law took effect in October 2011, much of the news reporting has been on crimes, such as murder and rape, committed by criminals considered "low level" offenders by the state and left in counties supposedly to be rehabilitated. The arrests of habitual felon Ka Pasasouk last December for the murders of four people in Northridge and of Tobias Dustin Summers for the kidnapping and rape of a 10-year-old San Fernando Valley girl last March—both free under Realignment received statewide coverage.

But thousands of other criminals across the state have committed new felonies, including assault, drug-dealing, spousal abuse, commercial burglary, and auto theft, are now defined as non-serious crimes under Realignment and only punishable with short terms in county jail, light supervision on probation, or assignment to a rehabilitation program.

"It’s not just the big cities like Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco that are being impacted by this law. People in rural communities who used to feel safe in their neighborhoods are being victimized as well," said Michael Rushford, President of the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

Kern County has seen a 25% spike in felony domestic violence cases since Realignment took effect in October 2011. Two incidents reported last week by KGET News included a Bakersfield woman who was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and held against her will for three days at the hands of Savon Dooney Dennis, who was free on Post-Release Community Supervision (probation) under Realignment. The woman reported being punched, raped, and threatened with a knife if she attempted to escape or told anyone of the incident. Ruben Cervantes, another criminal free under Realignment, shot his pregnant girlfriend in the home they shared as she lay in bed with her son. Fortunately she survived.

Data released by Humboldt County indicate that individuals under Post-Release Community Supervision were responsible for committing 63% of the felonies considered non-serious under Realignment between October 2011 and December 2012. Catherine Wong of the Times-Standard reports that Bodhi Tree, who was free under Post-Release Community Supervision, has been arrested for a double murder that left a high school senior dead. Tree was released from prison a month prior to the murders.

Another Humboldt County man, Wade Daniel Harris, was booked into county jail after brandishing a firearm and being in possession of stolen property while on Post-Release Community Supervision. Both crimes are considered non-serious under Realignment, meaning the most punishment Harris can receive is another short term in county jail. Humboldt County Sheriff Steve Knight called Harris a "problem child," and cites multiple instances where he has been released from custody and continued to commit crimes in the community.

On June 6, Matthew Renda of The Union reported on the arrest of John William Grimes, a Grass Valley felon free on Post-Release Community Supervision, for kidnapping to commit robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and second-degree burglary. The victim had to be hospitalized as a result of the assault.

"While our Governor and his super majority Legislature are patting themselves on the back for passing a budget, the Californians footing the bill are being forced to deal with the criminals that Realignment has turned loose into their communities," said Rushford.

CJLF President Michael Rushford is available for comment at (916) 446-0345.