Our Mission, About Us
Statement of Program and its Objective
In 1992, after the cold blooded murder of an 18 year old girl in Fresno, CA by two repeat offenders, just out of prison, a group of community leaders with help from judges, lawyers, state legislators and some the best legal minds in California drafted what has become the most effective crime law in U. S. history.
After 19 years of working to improve our criminal justice system by untangling the many legal complexities that strangle our justice system, this team has formed the California Center for the Prevention of Crime and Violence to continue that effort. Our goal is to study the state’s many costly programs and policies to find out what really works and what is a waste of time, energy and taxpayer money.
Programs and policies that work should be promoted and expanded while programs that have proved to be of little or no help, need to be changed or terminated.
While the complexities and causes of crime and violence have been debated since time immemorial there are answers and solutions; our goal is to find them.
20 Years of Delivering Results
Even though we are a new foundation, our efforts have nearly 20 years of delivering concrete results in the fight against crime. California 3 Strikes Law, which deals with repeat offenders, was passed in 1994. We saw some 25 other states follow suit. California’s Use a Gun Your Done Law, also known as 10-20-Life, provides extra time to criminals who use a gun during the commission of a crime. This was the first and toughest law of its kind and has been adopted in several other states.
Our members worked to pass the “Victims Bill of Rights” Initiative, Proposition 9, as well. This brings justice back to our justice system.
Our members have also worked to streamline our death penalty process and get it back on track.
We have currently been working to reduce the cost of jail construction to provide adequate housing to prevent early release.
Since the start of our efforts in 1994, California crime has dropped every year through 2011. Crime in 2011 was one-half the rate it was prior to the start of 3 Strikes in 1994. California went from the 4th highest crime rates in the U.S. to 29th in just 3 years. These drops were more than remarkable, they were historic.
Less crime has also meant fewer criminals and this is a “Best Case Scenario” that saves both the victims of crime and the cost to taxpayers for placing criminals behind bars.
California funded and built 19 new prisons in the 5 years prior to 1994. In the last 19 years, California funded and built just 1 new prison (Delano 2).
Regardless of the success of these laws they are not without their detractors. Arguments have been fought through and to the U. S. Supreme Court on more than one occasion. Attempts to weaken our laws by both legislation and through initiatives are always a threat to public safety.
The effort to keep good laws on the books is every bit as arduous a task as the labor required to get them there.
Balancing the Media Perspective
Over the last 2 decades, members of the CCPCV have provided balance on crime and punishment issues as they rise to state and national importance in the media and public view.
We have provided insightful commentary and perspective to every major national television network including 60 Minutes, 20-20, Justice Files, Fox and CNN in the United States, as well as internationally to the United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. We have had major stories appear in a number of United States newspapers including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register as well as the Sacramento and Fresno Bee newspapers.
Legislative efforts to address crime often leave the public with a distorted understanding on any given issue and proposed legislation.
Bringing public awareness of a proposed law or problem places a spot light for all to see and decide.
A Turn of Events and a Need for Action
2012 will be remembered as the year crime suddenly and dramatically went up.
The cause, simply put, can be directly seen as a result of more criminals being released early from state prisons and county jails.
This can be attributed to a federal court order to reduce our state prison population by over 30,000 inmates. This overcrowding is more the result of California only funding and building 1 new prison in the last 2 decades rather than tough laws that add longer prison terms. We know that because California is 41st in its incarceration rates when compared to other states. States like Texas with a far smaller overall population have more criminals behind bars than California by far. In fact, tough crime laws that drop crime rates also reduce the number of criminals. No crime equals no criminal to send to prison.
In 2012 California saw only the first wave of criminals being placed back on our streets. With the passage of Proposition 36 much of California’s 3 Strikes law was struck down by voters that were led to believe this law was placing petty criminals behind bars for life.
Now the public will see thousands of California’s most active serious and violent offenders being released onto our streets, many with virtually no supervision. We have every reason to be expecting even more alarming crime rates in the immediate future. We know what needs to be done, but without resources we can only stand by and watch our state slide into the grip of crime and violence.
This onslaught of criminals will not only diminish the quality of life for all Californians but will also place more pressure on our already thinly stretched law enforcement system. Once conditions have been set in place that will raise crime rates, a spiraling effect that feeds on these conditions will be hard to stop or reverse. Our best opportunity to stop rising crime rates is to act early.
In the 20 years of experience in dealing with crime, its causes and cures, a repeating theme of laws that are simple to understand – with certainty to be used – provides the best deterrence and prevention to crime. The problem with tough laws is that most criminals find out about them too late and when they are facing a judge for sentencing. When we adequately inform potential offenders of the high price of a particular type of crime then we see compliance and in turn the frequency of occurrence diminishes.
Gun violence and how to reduce it is at the top of nearly everyone’s agenda.
California already has one of the best laws to stop gun violence in the US. It’s been law since 1998 and provides a simple, easy to understand – yet tough penalties – for the use of any gun (no air guns or toy guns) during the commission of a crime; pulling a gun adds 10 years, firing the gun adds 20 years, shoot someone (live or die) and its 25-to-life. The law is called 10-20-Life and is also nicknamed the “Use a Gun and You’re Done Law.”
With the establishment of this foundation we will now begin to correct Governor Brown’s errant modification – by law and policy change – of what was a state criminal justice system operating efficiently and fulfilling what should be the mandate of every state, the protection of its residents from the criminally incorrigible.