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Blog: AB 109 — California's Felon Dump

Every time that a so called nonviolent felon who has been released onto the streets commits an act of violence government has failed in its duty to protect innocent citizens.

As a result of a lawsuit brought by inmates of California state prisons, the United States Supreme Court ordered the State of California to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates over a three-year period of time. I

n response the California State Legislature passed The Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011 (AB 109). The goal of AB 109 was to transfer responsibility for incarceration and supervision of certain non-violent, low-risk offenders from the State to its 58 counties. This month marks the one-year anniversary of the implementation of AB 109, but it is nothing to celebrate.

Up and down the state, the release of so-called  non-serious, non-violent, non-sexual, “low-risk” inmates has been marked by dozens of reports of murders, rapes, attempted murder, kidnapping, stabbings and other crimes committed by inmates released early at the county levels as a result of AB 109.

On Monday, September 10, 2012, 26-year-old Michael Cockrell repeatedly stabbed Lisa Gilvary, 46, and her roommate, Jennifer Gonzalez, 20, during the course of a home invasion burglary. He then laid in wait and viscously attacked Fresno police officer Jonathan Linzey, 32, when he came to their aid. Ms. Gilvary died at the scene and Cockrell is now facing a possible death sentence. In March 2012, Cockrell was released from prison after serving only six-months of a three-year sentence under AB 109.

The state says that AB 109 only applies to ‘low risk” offenders, so it’s okay, but Michael Cockrell was considered a “low risk” offender! I can assure you that the State and I have very different definitions of “low risk.” It’s no wonder AB 109 has been called an abysmal failure, a disaster, and a deception that is dumping dangerous felons at our doorsteps.

In Lancaster, more than 300 offenders were released under partial supervision to Los Angeles probation officers since Realignment began.  Nearly 200 of these offenders have been rearrested for new crimes or charges.

Redding Police Chief Robert Paoletti “expressed frustration with the lack of jail space, which has resulted in early releases and created the perception of a revolving door at the jail.  Failure to appear warrants totaled 4,569 in the first six months of the year, a 32 percent increase from last year, when there were 3,453.” 

The California legislature needs to repeal AB 109.  The State needs to drastically reduce the type of offenders it allows to be shifted to the county level.  The state must take an inmates or parolees criminal history into consideration when determining who is eligible for AB 109. County jails are simply not equipped to handle many of the dangerous, repeat offenders AB 109 has sent them. Nor should we, as parents, have to worry about these same dangerous criminals being released early from overcrowded jails into our neighborhoods.

Crime exacts a heavy toll: on government, on society as a whole, but especially on victims. The cost of crime has three dimensions: a dollar amount calculated by adding up property losses, productivity losses, and medical bills. An amount less easily quantifiable includes the forms of pain, emotional trauma, and risk of death from victimization. And finally a dimension that cannot be quantified – the loss of life, and the trickle-down effect of extreme trauma or even death on the families of victims, their friends and communities held hostage by the threat of fear.

In 1996 the National Institute of Justice calculated the cost of crime. A single murder costs society $2,940,000, a rape (5) at $86,500, and a robbery with injury at $19,000. A fundamental duty of government is to protect society, to ensure that we walk safe streets and that the weak among us are not threatened by fear, intimidation and violence.

Every time that a so called nonviolent felon who has been released onto the streets commits an act of violence government has failed in that duty. When our government turns its back on the fundamental duty to protect innocent citizens, its skewed priorities must be revealed and it must be held accountable for its actions.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Summer Hemphill October 16, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Every time the state locks up another person for drugs they're wasting space that should be reserved for those convicted of serious offenses like rape & murder ! Publicity hound Mark Klass is as responsible for the 3 Strikes hysteria which has overburdened our grossly underfunded penal system in California,with his constant pleas for longer sentences for every offense imaginable as anybody ! No one wants dangerous felons running our streets,yet no one can figure out how to pay for it anymore ! It's time to revisit the 3 Strikes issue & a complete overhaul of our criminal justice system is long overdue ! Personally I'm tired of looking at Mark Klass & reading his tired & cliched rhetoric concerning every crime related issue in the headlines week after week ! Mark should put his money where his mouth is & donate all the money the Polly Klass Foundation raises every year to the Department of Corrections to pay to house the thousands of inmates that his crusade helped put there ! You can't keep most people in jail forever & you can't stop people who are determined to commit crimes,no matter what the potential punishment may be ! That's life,cruel & unfair,but in the country that imprisons more of it's citizens than anywhere else on earth crime is just an unpleasant yet inevitable fact of life ! Get used to it & get on with it,don't let fear & ignorance ruin life for you,as all that any of us can do is be cautious & optomistic nowadays ! Rehabilitation,not incarceration !
Marc Klaas October 16, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Summer, You are under no obligation to read my blogs, so if you quit torturing yourself by doing so. Since I have had no connection to the Polly Klaas Foundation since 1994 I would be hard pressed to tell them how to allocate their funds. As for the KlaasKids Foundation, we are not nearly as well funded as you might believe. Since we are a non-profit agency our financial information is available for your to look at on the California Attorney General's webpage, and on the IRS webpage. Now to the heart of your complaint. There are 8,873 third strike convicts currently serving sentences in the California prison system. That is 6.6% of the total of 134,000+. Each and every one of those individuals had at least two serious or violent felony convictions prior to receiving their third strike. The Legislative Analysts Office estimates that the "average" third strike convict has five felony convictions. Each and every one of those offenders has had the benefit of prosecutorial discretion, judicial discretion, twice as many preemptory challenges in choosing a jury, and the court of appeals. If they find themselves serving a life sentence after all of that, you can hardly blame me. Statistically, you are half as likely to be a victim of violent crime today as you were in 1993, the year before three strikes was first passed by the legislature, and then reaffirmed by a vote of the people.
The good Felon January 03, 2013 at 08:13 PM
This blog is stupid and anyone who honestly believes that locking a human being up in the extremely horrible jails and prisons in California or anywhere else and actually think that ANY person comes out as a rehabilitated individual,,,,,well your the individuals that should be in there because your more of a threat to society because of your obvious ignorant ways. Im tired of society locking people up and just ruining lives and families over stupid controlling laws that generate revenue for the police!!!! Its STUPID and there doing nothing but ROBBING the people that are the backbone of america----well so called america!!! I've been on both sides, being a CONVICTED FELON myself.....so dont give me crap and tell me I dont know shit cause I know it all too well.....SO PLEASE STOP MAKING IGNORANT BLOGS ABOUT SHIT THAT DOESN'T MATTER AND ACTUALLY GET OFf YOUR JUDGMENTAL ASSES AND DO SOMETHING GOOD!! God bless all you poor poor simpleminded people.
Jmc Gilroy January 09, 2013 at 07:15 AM
Good Felon? The only good felon is an incarcerated felon or, in the alternative, one who has blessed us all by taking a dirt nap 6 feet under. You're tired of society ruining YOUR life? How do you think the victims and their families feel? But then it's clear that you don't care about them, just yourself. However, I do enjoy the fact that your anger boils and your blood pressure skyrockets when you reads these blogs as it just may cause you to stroke out.
donna brown February 01, 2013 at 11:33 AM
If the state keeps locking up people for violations with no new beef then may be there would'int be a problem with over croweding in our jails,my boyfriend got 4 years with half for a probation violation how insane is that? his release date is june 26th 2014 that's insane.some thing is wrong there.
Sean W. February 15, 2013 at 05:43 AM
This story is BS. The maximum for a Probation or Parole violations is only 180 days. Each offender is awarded half time automatically, 90 days. With jail overcrowding, most will not serve their entire time. Furthermore, only the most severe violations will receive the max time.
Sean W. February 15, 2013 at 05:46 AM
Since it's passage, crime has steadily crept up. Along with the uptick in crime, there of course are casualties. From the four innocent people being murdered in Northridge to the Jose Luis Saenz debacle and countless others throughout the state, serve as excellent examples of why the flawed, misleading and extremely dangerous AB 109 needs to be repealed. AB 109 is the primary reason why crime is going up allover the state. The public and law enforcement are unnecessarily put at risk in order to save money. For a criminal, the passage of AB 109 is better than winning the lottery. To learn more about AB 109 and to help repeal it, please click the link below. http://www.change.org/petitions/california-assembly-bill-ab-109-repeal-ab-109
Sean W. February 15, 2013 at 05:49 AM
I urge you to please support my efforts to repeal the flawed, misleading and dangerous AB 109. This bill unnecessarily puts citizens and law enforcement officers at risk for the sake of saving money. From the murder of four innocent people in Northridge, to the Jose Luis Saenz debacle and countless others throughout the state, serve as excellent examples of why the flawed, misleading and extremely dangerous AB 109 needs to be repealed. AB 109 is the primary reason why crime is going up allover the state. For a criminal, the passage of AB 109 is better than winning the lottery. http://www.change.org/petitions/california-assembly-bill-ab-109-repeal-ab-109
MamaC March 17, 2013 at 05:14 AM
Summer, please don't use exclamation points after every sentence in your argument. It is difficult to take anyone seriously who has no grasp of effective written communication.
Elaine May 02, 2013 at 03:43 PM
I Belive that AB109 should be what it's for and that's non offenders, people who may have gotten in themself in trouble for thing's that the goverment give us no chose in like my friends family was money problems and her husband tried too get food for his family by walking out of a store with food in a cart. and got arrested and now is doing 8 months in jail. if I could have helped her I feel so bad she was to ashamed to tell me her problem. now her husband is gone too a place with people that are murders ect.. but he is ab109 and they told he has to the whole 8 months. I don't why that? some of the jail don't honor the ab109 laws

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