SACRAMENTO – Responding to the numerous incidents of innocent Californians becoming victims of crime as a result of a mass influx of criminals into their communities, Senate and Assembly Republicans today unveiled a package of reforms that they say will fix some of the serious flaws in Governor Brown’s public safety realignment law that are putting people at risk.
“Since the Governor’s public safety realignment plan took effect, communities across California have seen increased incidents of crime as serious and repeat felons are being granted early release and being set free to commit new crimes,” said Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, of Tulare. “Sadly, these reports are not isolated incidents. Our legislation represents the narrowly-crafted, common sense solutions Californians are demanding to fix the serious flaws in the Governor’s law and keep their communities safe.”
Former chairman of the Board of Prison Terms, Senator Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, said, “The anticipated dire consequences of realignment- from the potential escalation in lower-level crimes like home burglaries to the early release of dangerous felons from overcrowded county jails – is sadly a reality. Criminals now face diminished to no consequences for their continued victimization of innocent citizens. Convicted felons must know that there are consequences for continuing to victimize. The absence of consequences does not promote rehabilitation.”
GOP lawmakers said that early figures and reports from individual jurisdictions show that Californians are less safe today because of the Governor’s public safety realignment law. According to figures from the FBI, crime rates in California skyrocketed between the period from January to June 2011 and January to June 2012, just as the realignment law was starting to be implemented. Murder and rape crimes each increased nearly 8 percent, while burglary and motor vehicle theft each increased more than 10 percent. Comparatively, crime rates in other states and nationally either decreased or remained relatively flat.
Republicans said that there measures were narrowly crafted and focused on solving the problems that have been experienced by communities under the Governor’s public safety realignment law since it was first implemented in October 2011. Republicans have authored proposals to:
Help law enforcement keep closer tabs on dangerous offenders out on the streets;
Increasing penalties against criminals who shouldn’t have guns;
Provide funding fairness for local governments; and
Ensure that sex offenders, dangerous criminals and repeat felons serve their time in state prison.
For descriptions of the 13 realignment reform proposals that Senate and Assembly Republicans have introduced, click here
“As a mother of five, nothing is more important to me than keeping our children safe from those who would cause them harm,” said Assembly Public Safety Committee Vice Chair Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore. “We cannot allow Californians to live in constant fear of increased crime and violence because of a deeply flawed law. Our reforms will ensure that individuals who committed very serious crimes are locked up in state prison, not sent to overcrowded local jails where they could be returned to the streets to target additional victims.”
Last week, Governor Brown said acknowledged that there were flaws with his public safety realignment plan, stating that, “Yeah, we make mistakes, but we correct them as we go.” Many Democrats in the Legislature have also voiced their concerns with realignment and are calling for reforms to fix this misguided law. Republican lawmakers said that they had already attracted Democrat support for some of their reform ideas, and hope to work with them to attract bipartisan support to pass the changes necessary to protect our communities.
“Realignment has overburdened counties by giving them responsibility for hardened criminals but far less resources than they need to adequately supervise and rehabilitate those offenders,” said Senator Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres. “Many counties did not have the programs or space to properly deal with these criminals. We must address the flaws of realignment caused by inadequate and inequitable funding and provide more resources to local criminal justice agencies.”
Republicans said that advocates for public safety and crime victims were strongly supporting their realignment reform package, calling them necessary steps to protect citizens and ensure justice is served for victims and their families.
“If it weren't for realignment, my daughter would be living her life normally right now. If it's the last thing I do, to my last breath I will work to see that Realignment is changed,” said Diana Munoz, mother of Brandy Arreola.
Brandy was the victim of a brutal domestic violence attack in 2012. Her attacker, a former boyfriend, had been arrested the month prior to the attack for violating parole and for failing to register as a sex offender. He had been arrested multiple times since 2004. He was sentenced to 100 days in jail, but served just two days due to overcrowding in the local jail. Two weeks later, out on the streets, he would brutally attack his girlfriend. Absent the Governor’s public safety realignment plan, GOP lawmakers said the alleged attacker would have been back in prison as a result of his parole violation and Brandy would be leading a normal, healthy life today.
To learn more about the impact of the Governor’s public safety realignment law on communities throughout California, visit the “California Crime Watch” website at www.cacrimewatch.com