Release Date:  August 22, 2017
Contact:  Michael Rushford
(916) 446-0345

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On April 5, 2011, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed AB 109, the “Public Safety Realignment” act into law, announcing that it would “stop the costly, ineffective and unsafe ‘revolving door’ of lower-level offenders and parole violators through our state prisons.”

The April 2012 report, “The Future of California Corrections” issued by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, stated “. . . upon full implementation of realignment, the department’s annual budget will be reduced by $1.5 billion through reduced expenditures associated with declining offender populations and new efficiencies.” Similar promises were made in 2014 to encourage California voters to support Proposition 47, “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” In its endorsement, the Los Angeles Times called it “a good and timely measure that can help the state make smarter use of its criminal justice and incarceration resources.” Supporters of Proposition 47 claimed that the initiative could save as much as $150 million in incarceration costs. Proponents of both measures promised that the savings in corrections and county jail costs would be used to fund rehabilitation programs to keep nonviolent offenders from committing new crimes.

Both measures reduced sentences for property and drug crimes, made several thousand criminals in state prisons and county jails eligible for early release, drastically reduced supervision of those released, and prevented criminals convicted of most new felonies from receiving prison sentences.

Today, six years after the Governor signed Realignment into law and nearly three years since voters passed Proposition 47, state corrections costs have increased by over $1.7 billion, and total state expenditures for prisons, county jails, and rehabilitation programs have gone from $9.5 billion in the 2010-2011 fiscal year to nearly $12.2 billion for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, according to the Governor’s budget.


Proponents of Realignment and Proposition 47 also promised that nonviolent criminals could be safely released and rehabilitated, actually reducing crime. That promise has also proven false. In 2015, crime in California was up significantly in every category but burglary.

The just released report Crime In California for 2016 shows across-the-board increases in violent crime, with homicide jumping nearly 5% after a 10% increase in 2015. While robbery and aggravated assault were also up, the increase in rape was the highest at over 7%. The state Attorney General’s report shows that from 2014 to 2016 homicide in California rose by 15.3%, robbery by 12.5%, and aggravated assault by 13.7%. Rape shows a much larger increase over this period, but some of this may be attributed to a broadening of the definition of rape in 2014. The statistics suggest that each year more Californians are becoming victims of these reforms. Some examples:

On August 9, a repeat felon on probation broke into a Sacramento woman’s home about 5:00 a.m. and attacked her with a knife. Neighbors, alerted by her screams, caught Jordan Lynch attempting to flee and subdued him until police arrived. Lynch had violated his probation three times since his 2016 robbery conviction. He is being charged with attempted murder. The victim was hospitalized with stab wounds in her neck and back. (Sacramento Bee, 8/9/17.)

On July 31, a habitual criminal on probation, classified under California law as a nonserious, nonviolent offender, shot two Los Banos police officers before being fatally injured by return fire. There were restraining orders against Norberto Nieblas Reyes from his estranged wife and the owner of her apartment for previous incidents when he climbed into her apartment through a window at 6:18 a.m. He attacked responding officers and grabbed one of their guns before shooting one officer in the chest and the other in the head, torso, and leg. Nieblas Reyes had multiple priors for DUI, drug possession, assaults on police officers, and spousal abuse. (Los Banos Enterprise, 8/4/17.)

On July 18, a Riverside County jury found habitual felon Michael Dwayne Hughes, 34, guilty of second-degree murder for a January 18, 2013, auto accident which killed two 12-year-old girls and a 56-year-old grandmother en route to a church dance. Hughes was driving drunk on a suspended license and on probation for prior convictions, and his probation had been revoked three times prior to the crash. (The Press-Enterprise, 7/19/17.)

“Californians were sold a pack of lies about the sentencing reforms pushed by the Governor, the Legislature, and the ACLU. Releasing repeat criminals into our communities has actually increased state prison and local law enforcement costs, while allowing innocent people to be attacked, injured, and murdered by dangerous criminals who should have been behind bars,” said Foundation President Michael Rushford.

CJLF Legal Director Kent Scheidegger is available for comment at (916) 446-0345.