By: Susan Knowles
While driving home yesterday, I made the mistake of turning on the radio. I thought it would be a relaxing way to spend the drive and it was until a local news station began talking about the increased crime rate in California.
I soon remembered what I guess I had tried to forget and that was Jerry Brown’s signing into law of AB109. This Assembly Bill is Brown’s attempt to “close the revolving door” on low-level inmates’ cycling in and out of California’s thirty three prisons. Brown promised to reduce the number of inmates to 137.5 percent of design capacity by June 27, 2013, as ordered by California judges and confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The implementation of the Realignment or AB109 began in October 2011.
It is Brown’s premise that cycling these prisoners through the system just wastes money. Brown offered no other alternatives other than releasing these prisoners. He strictly advocated for turning these criminals out into the street so that they can potentially reoffend.
How do I know they will reoffend? Logic tells me that the best prediction of future behavior is past behavior and California has statistics to back it up. I also base my rational beliefs upon Jerry Brown’s own statements about California’s prison system being a “revolving door.” If it’s a revolving door then the criminals must be coming back or reoffending, right? While it is true that not everyone will reoffend, should people of California be the guinea pigs in the experiment of even one reoffending criminal?
So then, where does Brown’s plan leave California? His plan leaves California with a predictable rise in the crime rate. According to a 2012 FBI report, after years of seeing a decline in crime rates in pretty much all areas, California’s crime rate rose significantly in the first six months of 2012. According to the report, there was an increase of 7.6% in homicide rates and double-digit increases in burglary and arson rates. Violent crime in California increased at more than twice the national rate, rising 4% with the rise in property crime at six times higher than the national rate, as reported in this same FBI report.
In comparing California to Texas and Florida, California reported a violent crime rate that is 2½ times greater than Texas and 7 times greater than Florida. Why the difference? The difference is that those states don’t have the realignment program that California does. They put people in prison and then search for reasonable alternatives with the emphasis being on “reasonable.”
So, is the increase in crime following Brown’s realignment solution just a fluke or is it another Brown failure? In 2006, when Jerry Brown was the mayor of Oakland, California, a densely populated and diverse city, he sponsored nearly two dozen crime initiatives to reduce Oakland’s crime rate. Crime decreased by 13 percent overall, but the city saw a 57% spike in homicides. No doubt some of these were at one time the low-level prisoners that Brown now releases.
Brown had several years to build more prisons or to come up with a solution that didn’t put the general public in danger. What prevented him from doing this? My guess is his decision was in part, heavily influenced by such liberal political organizations as ACORN. Brown has been aligned with them and has sung their praises throughout his political career.
Should Jerry Brown be recalled for putting Californians in harms-way? It should at least be discussed but the likelihood of recalling a long-term, Democratic, career politician in a Democrat-controlled state is highly unlikely. Although California successfully recalled Democratic Governor Gray Davis for a decidedly “lesser offense,” due to rolling blackouts within the state, Davis was not as well-known or as well-backed by liberal organizations as is Brown.
Yesterday was the first day I remembering hearing about AB109 in the media since it was enacted in 2011. The media continues to support Governor Brown and protect him from criticism.
What then can Californians expect in the short and long-run? They can expect to see a continual increase in crime rates in the state unless and until the media and others speak out against this failed bill and call for a responsible change.
To hear my Spreecast on this subject from earlier today click here.
Susan Knowles is an author, psychotherapist and former practicing attorney. Her latest book, a political fiction, is entitled, “Freedom’s Fight: A Call to Remember” available on Amazon.com. Her website is www.susanknowles.com, where this article may also be found.