How California’s Prisoner Release Program Sucks

How California’s Prisoner Release Program Sucks

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BY MIRYAM MORA-BARAJAS

April marks the one year anniversary when Governor Brown signed a bill that made prisoner early release program a reality. This was prompted by the California Supreme Courts decision ordering California prisons to reduce the overcrowding of inmates by 33,000.

Instead of complying with the number 33,000, Jerry Brown decided to take it a step further: he nearly doubled that number to nearly 60,000 prisoners. In October of 2011, prisoners whose latest crime was low risk, regardless of their criminal and violent rap sheet, were freed, without any justice to the victimized community.

The realignment program was directed to designated low-risk offenders. However, you have to first examine the definition of low-risk that legislators created.  It includes offenders convicted of: carrying weapons in schools, committing hate crimes, selling guns to gang members, fire, theft … the list goes on.

This has been a dramatic change to the system of corrections, and it is traumatic to the victims of crime.

As a child, I attended a primary school in the city of La Puente. Our family had the misfortune of living next to an alley where it was common for the Sheriff’s helicopter to shine its light on alleys in search of gang members fleeing and hiding between the houses.

I grew up in a community where children instinctively threw themselves to the ground when gunfire sounded. This was learned before they could read and write. Shootings, drug trafficking, gang fights, sexual assault and murder were some of the activities we dealt with in our community.

When some of the gang members were arrested by the police, our community gave a sigh of relief. I always hoped that gangsters were gone forever.

Last April, the County of Los Angeles made history by placing a restraining order that prohibits more than 1,300 gang members from participating in certain activities in La Puente, Bassett, Valinda and portions of City of Industry.  By creating a 6 mile security zone through this gang injunction, those areas were protected from ​​over a thousand gang members of Puente 13, Bassett Grande and their rivals.

When La Puente was triumphing against crime, the state gave them a black eye against their efforts. I was deeply saddened to read commentary from La Puente mayor John Solis noting that since the state’s realignment program went into effect, sexual assaults increased by 300 percent and assaults with firearms and stabbings have also increased by nearly 150 percent throughout the city.

A year since California Governor Brown made prisoner realignment a reality, and while lawmakers gathered behind the walls of the Capitol, what will they tell our community when these criminals are arrested and released one day, a week or two later? How can our community have confidence in our political system when they cannot meet its top priority: keeping our streets and schools safe?

MIRYAM MORA-BARAJAS currently serves as the deputy finance director and Latino outreach director for the California Republican Party

7 COMMENTS

  1. MIRYAM MORA-BARAJAS clearly never read AB109 nor has a clue about the bill. NO ONE HAS BEEN RELEASED EARLY FROM PRISON! In Oct 12011, counties which by the way determine the sentence, are to keep low level offenders incarcerated in their counties. Counties have up until now passed these cost onto the state. Along with dumb on crime laws such as Three Strikes and the war on drugs, 18 counties are responsible for the majority of inmates,some such as Kern County and Riverside county that send a much higher percentage of inmates per 100,000 residents than others. If you are concerned about jail overcrowding, ask the Sheriff for a list of inmates being held in pretrial detention who can not afford bail! The majority of inmates in county jails have not been tried in a court of law, that is a fact! All this early release garbage is nothing more than a money grab!

  2. This article's facts are so misleading! The US Supreme Court ordered the reduction of inmates to 137.5% of capacity. California has until May of 2013 to complete it's reduction. So far about 22,000 inmates have been reduced through normal parole after serving their full term. Not the 60,000 inmates suggested by this author. California paroles as many as 10,000 inmates each month. It is no longer accepting non violent, non serious,non sex offenders that have very short terms. The argument given by county sheriffs is that their jail capacity is being overwhelmed, they claim they must release inmates,yet they are not making public who they are releasing. Fact , The majority of inmates in county jails are awaiting trial and have not been sentenced.I question how many are being held under pretrial detention that can not afford bail and how many for non violent charges. This author could not have been more irresponsible in this article and clearly has not studied the issue! Counties have been given $600 million dollars in AB 900 funds to expand jails.Do your homework Miryam!

  3. This article is a bunch of crap, she is the typical "Chicken Little" the sky is falling scenario.

    Frank Courser is correct in his analysis of her article.

    Do your research Miryam, one of the things you may not also be looking at is the various reasons as to why this alleged release was done. California State in case you haven't been paying attention has been over budget and close to bankruptcy on more than one occasion.

    You're are probably thinking that what happened is happening only as a cost saving measure, that might be true in your book. BUT it goes beyond that this is more of a health and safety measure where there was an average of 1 inmate dying a week due to neglect in the Prison heath care system.

    And your response was probably so what, they got what they deserved, did they? do you know that NON-VIOLENT criminals and parole violators were incarcerated too? Do you even know what a NON-VIOLENT crime is? It's a crime where NO VIOLENCE happens, so therefore someones mother or father, brother or sister is sent to PRISON for committing a NON VIOLENT CRIME.

    And if they get sick and cannot receive medical treatment (like you can) because there are too many people in the system then that is a true crime.

    So this measure was to reduce the number of inmates at various institution, but even with the transfers there are inmates that are paroled every day, were you aware of that? Probably not you just grouped it all together – to cry the sky is falling.

    And why do i make all these comments? Because I have a loved one in prison and they did commit a crime and I hear of the atrocities first hand of what goes on in there, you on the other hand have no clue. When your son, Daughter, Brother, Sister, Father or Mother gets the chance to be incarcerated in a State run facility then may you truly learn what happens in there, I hope that it may never happen but you will realize that what we are saying is truth and not just rhetoric.

    We all realize that you probably had a traumatizing childhood, and what your city did they should have done much sooner, like when you were a child so that it fixed the problem right off the bat. Everything in both these situations both amounts to money States that have to spend it and cities that don't want to spend it; kind of a catch 22.

    And all everyone ever wants to do about it (like you) is complain about it. So why don't you do the right thing, do your part and join your city council and make a real stand instead.

    Put your actions where your mouth is.

  4. Frank and Gamh7, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Mr. Gamh7, I do have family members that have been part of the prison system. I do know what it's like to sit and watch a family member get convicted of a crime. I do know what it's like when they are released early only to go back and subject their family and community to criminal activity.

    As I indicated in my article, the system is flawed, where it only considers their last crime and not their entire rap sheet. The non-violent list includes crimes such as carrying weapons in schools and committing hate crimes.

    Here are just a few media examples of career prisoners who were released early only to commit more crimes.
    http://www.news10.net/news/local/story.aspx?story
    http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/loc

  5. I know of no one that has been released early because of AB109! So why do you say people are being released early? No inmates are being transferred from prisons to jails, sentences remain the same. The article you pasted only quote what a sheriff has said. Please read AB109 .As I said if jail inmates are being released,you need to ask why! If they claim overcrowding ask how many are held under pretrial detention who can not afford bail. From what you have written here, I am sure it is because you don't understand AB109 or have never read it! It does NOT release anyone early from prison!

  6. What burns me is that the California Department Corrections and Rehabilitation Department cannot seem to find one person that they have rehabilitated and therefore would qualify as someone who they believe will not commit a ‘crime’ in the future. I think the reason for that is twofold…It puts money in their paychecks now, and in the future, when they hunt these men down and throw them back in prison, it will pay them, then. I believe they should all be held in contempt for not doing their duties of Rehabilitation. OR FIRED! There’s no accountability for these torture lovers. I’m neither republican nor democrat. I am ashamed of all the politicians and elitists and their ghoulish enforcement criminals and their ‘laws’ to control the masses and rape and pillage them, and steal the fathers from their children, and stress the families beyond belief by locking up the bread-winners. Not all, but some, are just that. My husband is there for a DUI. We have 7 kids, two with autism. So, I KNOW WHAT I SPEAK OF. He has nearly five more months to serve. It doesn’t appear that he will get out before the last drop in the hourglass…..over their DEAD BODIES will he get out one day earlier, it would seem.

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