Prop 57: A Big Mistake for Californians

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By Robert A. Lovingood

(Victor Valley)– Soon you’ll be hearing about Proposition 57, a November ballot measure misleadingly titled, the “Public safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016.” After all, who isn’t for public safety? And rehabilitation?

But Proposition 57, an initiative by Gov. Jerry Brown, is yet another example of the State’s misguided policy of releasing criminals into our communities to relieve crowded prisons. In recent years, Prop 47 and AB 109, essentially put more criminals back on the streets and reduced penalties. We are seeing the results with higher crime rates.

And Prop 57 will just make things worse.

That’s why I am joining Law Enforcement officials, Prosecutors and victims support groups in strongly opposing Proposition 57.

Prop 57 would make drastic changes to our sentencing laws, including eligibility for parole that disregards enhancements such as use of a deadly weapon, commission of a crime to benefit a criminal street gang, or prior prison terms, according to the California District Attorneys Association. Felons convicted of multiple crimes against multiple victims will be eligible for early release at the same time as those who commit only one crime against one victim.

Prop 57 “significantly undermines more than four decades of criminal justice policies approved by the Legislature and California voters that were designed to enhance public safety and protect the rights of crime victims,” according to the D.A.’s Association. And the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation estimates 42,000 inmates would be released under Prop 57.

Some would have you believe that Prop 57 increases public safety. But it’s the same tactic that was used in 2014 to dupe voters into passing Prop 47, misleadingly titled, “The Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act.”

So let’s take a look at the impact of these policies.

Since 2014, violent crime in California jumped 10 percent. Property crimes statewide rose 8 percent from 2014 to 2015. The most recent data indicates theft, burglary, auto theft and other property crimes increased 15.2 percent in cities with populations over 100,000, compared to a decrease of 6 percent nationally, according to the California Police Chiefs Association. Violent crime jumped 15.4 percent in cities with populations over 100,000, in contrast to 1.3 percent in the other states. Similar results are also seen in smaller cities. So much for making California neighborhoods safer.

Led by Sheriff John McMahon, the men and women of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department have done an outstanding job and have rolled out some innovative approaches. In 2015, four of the eight Sheriff’s stations in the First District actually saw major crimes decline in 2015; one station had no change and three saw increases. For the same period, all eight local Sheriff’s jurisdictions saw declines in lesser crimes, for an overall decline of 13.95 percent.

Like the Sheriff’s Department, District Attorney Mike Ramos and his department have done an outstanding job in pursuing approaches that are tough on crime. As District Attorney Ramos said, Prop 57 is going to put career criminals back on the streets.

But crime rates are more than cold statistics. Behind these numbers are real people – crime victims who have been murdered, robbed, assaulted or who have been the victims of burglaries or other property crimes. And the fact that California’s dramatic increase in crime is not occurring in other states, is further evidence that California’s soft-on-crime policies are failing the public and hurting the hardworking, taxpaying people of this state.

Please join me in voting no on Proposition 57.

Robert Lovingood is vice chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors representing the First District.

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