Advisory Quarterly Publication, Spring – Summer 2016
STATE POLICIES INCREASING CRIME
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell told guests of the Foundation’s June 1 annual meeting that changes in California policies were causing increased crime virtually everywhere within his jurisdiction. Reinforcing the perspective of other Sheriffs across the state, Sheriff McDonnell cited the Governor’s Realignment Law (AB109), Proposition 36 (which weakened the Three Strikes law), and Proposition 47 (which converted property and drug felonies to misdemeanors) as the reason criminals are being cycled back into communities to commit more crimes.
Sheriff McDonnell was the featured speaker at the 34th annual luncheon meeting. It was co-hosted by CJLF Trustees Mary Rudolph and Faye Battiste Otto at The California Club. During McDonnell’s remarks, he noted that after the Governor signed AB109 into law in 2011, the Los Angeles county jail, which was designed to house minor offenders serving one year or less, has been filling up with hardened repeat felons no longer eligible for prison, some serving over 10 years. He explained that this, coupled with Prop. 47’s downgrading of felony possession of serious drugs (such as heroin and methamphetamine) to misdemeanors, has taken jail time off the table, removing any incentive for drug addicts to participate in rehabilitation programs.
When asked by one guest if the state had been incarcerating too many people, Sheriff McDonnell responded that previous California sentencing policies focused on increasing the consequences for repeat and violent offenders and that those policies had given the public two decades of dramatically reduced crime rates.