Prop. 57: criminals far and wide love it
By Michele Hanisee
The ADDA and prosecutors throughout California have grown hoarse warning about the public safety disaster known as Prop. 57.
But even we didn't envision that it would actually incentivize crime by luring criminals here from other states. Yet that's exactly what appears to be happening.
As Torrance police arrested two suspects from Colorado late last month in a vicious home invasion robbery, a private citizen began filming the incident. The citizen asked one of the suspects why he was there. The suspect's response? "Prop 57." The inference we must draw is that the thugs came to California to commit their crimes because they counted on lenient punishments under Prop 57 if they were caught.
Prop. 57 will flood our streets with thousands of dangerous criminals released early from prison, a fact that has been made clear as the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has begun publishing the release criteria. Inmates are now eligible for parole after serving 50 percent of the sentence for their primary offense - regardless of any enhancements that had been added onto the sentence, and regardless of previous strikes for brutal crimes such as rape and murder.
The Prop 57 campaign was highlighted by dubious and at times utterly false claims. The most reprehensible of them was that Prop. 57 would make only non-violent felons eligible for early release. This would be true only if you consider "non-violent" to include crimes such as rape, sodomy and oral copulation of an unconscious person or by use of date rape drugs; lewd and lascivious acts with a child aged 14 or 15; and sexual battery of a disabled or mentally incapacitated person.
The gatekeeper on early release is the state parole board, who has enormous and unreviewable discretion over who gets released. Keep in mind, this is the very board that voted to parole cop killer Voltaire Williams, and tried to free two Manson family members and other heinous criminals who deserve to remain behind bars for life.
In our campaign against Prop. 57 we voiced our concerns about the convicted criminals to be released early to our communities. Who knew it would also be a crime magnet, luring criminals from far and wide with its promise of drastically reduced prison sentences if caught and convicted?
Michele Hanisee is President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles. To contact a Board member, click here.