A story posted in the online edition of the Sacramento Bee reports that after California’s 2016 adoption of Proposition 57, “The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act,” recidivism went down according to a report from state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
The initiative allowed criminals convicted of so called “non-violent” crimes such as drug dealing, car theft, grand larceny and burglary, to be released from prison early based upon their behavior while incarcerated. The criminal’s prior convictions, even for murder or rape, were not required to be considered in the CDCR process to determine who was eligible and how much time off they would receive.
The Bee article notes that the measure was opposed by law enforcement organizations like the San Francisco Police Officers Association, Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the California District Attorneys Association, who warned that it would allow the release of dangerous violent offenders resulting in increased crime. But in the three years after Proposition 57 passed, the CDCR reported that the return-to-prison rate for released inmates declined.
Although the decline was slight, the CDCR stated “while these are preliminary findings, they show an early positive trend in California’s investments to improve public safety through an increased focus on rehabilitation, education, and restorative justice efforts.” The head of the pro-Proposition 57 group Californians for Safety and Justice went further, telling the Bee “the report is also a really important reminder that the seemingly unceasing rhetoric and propaganda being pushed by law enforcement that somehow prioritizing rehabilitation in prison is jeopardizing public safety is just that: baseless propaganda.”
The message here is that thanks to Proposition 57, California is getting safer and those who say otherwise are lying.
Wow. All of this important information from just a three year review of return-to-prison numbers.
Perhaps this story and the accompanying narrative should be put into context.
In 2011, the Legislature passed and Jerry Brown signed into law, the most sweeping transformation of the criminal justice system in state history. AB109, dubbed “Public Safety Realignment,” passed on a democrat party-line vote with no committee hearings. It eliminated prison sentences for almost all property and drug crimes and required that existing property and drug felons coming out of prison receive light supervision on county probation, rather than heavy supervision on state parole. Violent offenders released on parole, who violated parole conditions were put on probation. All released offenders subsequently convicted of drug-dealing, most assault and domestic violence charges, auto theft, burglary and grand larceny could only be sentenced to county jail and could not be sent to prison. The CDCR does not keep data on these offenders. It only tallies the offenders who return to prison.
In 2014, the ACLU and pro-criminal billionaire George Soros bankrolled and won adoption of Proposition 47, “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” To make neighborhoods and schools safe, this measure transformed most drug transactions and thefts of $950 or less from felonies to misdemeanors, which carry almost no consequences. As a result, other than robberies and car thefts, people stopped reporting these crimes and police stopped arresting the offenders.
According to the CDCR report, by the time that Governor Brown and George Soros pooled $10 million to get Proposition 57 passed in 2016, the arrest and conviction rates in California had already dropped by 10% since passage of AB 109. The same report indicates that between 2010 and 2013 the return-to-prison rate had been cut in half. By making it quite difficult for anyone other than murderers and rapists to be returned to prison, it is hardly surprising that the return-to-prison rate dropped slightly shortly after passage of Proposition 57.
To translate for the Harvard or Yale graduates reading this, enacting state laws which make roughly 2/3 of all felonies ineligible for prison results in a lower rate of convicted felons returning to prison.
But the fear-mongering propaganda continues. This time in the form of a 2022 report on Crime Trends in California by the decidedly left-leaning Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).
While reminding us that things are not nearly as bad compared to the end of the last national crime wave in 1992, the PPIC reported that between 2019 and 2021 homicides jumped by an unprecedented 41.2% and aggravated assaults by 18.0%. Gun-related homicides and aggravated assaults surged by 52% and 64%. Auto theft continued its 2020 climb, up an additional 7.6%—now up by 28.4% compared to 2019. These are not good numbers.
Those insisting that rehabilitation is working need to explain how the criminals committing the over 41% increase in murders and the 18% increase in assaults slipped by without getting rehabilitated. The claim “yea but property crime is down,” is an insult to our collective intelligence. We are not punishing most property crimes in California. People don’t even report them any more. This also explains why arrests are down. No reporting, no consequences = fewer arrests.
Final notes: The CDCR operates under the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom. Californians for Safety and Justice is a pro-criminal front group funded by George Soros.
- Judge: Lawsuit to Block Early Inmate Releases Can Continue - September 7, 2023
- Criminal Justice Legal Foundation Report: Prop. 57 Does Not Reduce Recidivism - August 24, 2023
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