The Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association (LAAPOA) is alarmed at a highly irresponsible and dangerous proposal on the November 8 ballot. Billed as the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act, and supported and developed by Governor Jerry Brown, this initiative is designed to ease prison overcrowding by releasing supposed “nonviolent” offenders from state penitentiaries (perhaps not coincidentally saving the governor millions of dollars in his budget in the process). LAAPOA joins dozens of law enforcement associations across the state, victims’ rights groups and more than a hundred city, county and state officials in asserting that Prop 57 is a flawed, misleadingly titled measure that will allow tens of thousands of violent criminals to be released from state jails and back onto the streets.
“If this measure passes, at least 16,000 state prisoners, and potentially tens of thousands, will be released back into our communities,” says LAAPOA President Marshall McClain.
Further, Prop 57 amends the state constitution, so if implementation causes widespread problems, they can only be addressed by another ballot measure put before the voters.
The California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) has analyzed the governor’s initiative and determined it would effect drastic changes to sentencing laws, authorize prison officials to award good behavior credits, and conflict with other constitutional and legislative provisions such as use of enhancements — undermining policies enacted over decades by voters and the Legislature to ensure that the punishment fits the crime. If Prop 57 passes, inmates sentenced to “nonviolent” felony offenses would be eligible for parole consideration after completion of only the term of their primary offense. Because the penal code defines a limited number of felonies as “violent,” an extensive list of “serious” category crimes could potentially qualify offenders for early release. Just a few examples of dozens crimes that fall under serious, but not violent, categories are assault with a deadly weapon, rape of an unconscious person, human trafficking involving a sex act with a minor, drive-by shooting, domestic violence involving trauma, hate crime causing physical injury, arson causing great bodily injury, discharging a firearm on school grounds and too many others to list.
“Crime rates are rising in our state right now as a result of reduced drug penalties via Prop 47, passed in 2014, and early releases under AB 109 realignment,” says McClain. “For the first time last year, after historic lows, we saw an overall 10% increase in violent crime, 37% increase in rape and double-digit increases in property crimes in cities across the state. Prop 57 will only accelerate this growing problem.”
McClain also points out the increased number of crimes against police officers across the country and the recent murders of police officers in California. He is concerned that Prop 57 undermines their ability to do their jobs safely and protect those they serve.
“In early October alone, three officers were murdered by parolees,” says McClain. “We are concerned that an influx of newly released prisoners not only presents a hazard to our communities, but adds additional danger to the already perilous environment for public safety personnel.”
LAAPOA urges all voters to be informed about the true impacts of Prop 57 by visiting www.stop57.com. “I think it’s important for people to understand the potentially devastating effects this proposition could have on public safety in the entire state,” says McClain. “If we don’t stop this initiative from becoming law, we could be stuck with its deadly consequences for many years to come.”