Guest Commentary – No on Prop 57: Hold Politicians Accountable

Editorial

 

 

By Guest Contributor: Robert Masson

Proposition 57 is not only dangerous for the residents of California, voting it into law would reinforce a precarious trend by our state’s highest elected officials to transfer their failings in the prison system to the law-abiding people of California.

The popular debate regarding Proposition 57 seemingly hinges on the topic of paroling inmates and whether those inmates are violent or non-violent. Under Prop 57 guidelines, 7,000 inmates would be immediately released, according to the Associated Press, with thousands more to follow. It would release criminals who have committed domestic violence, human trafficking and sex with minors, among other deplorable crimes. But even more egregious than Prop 57 proponents trying to categorize the above offenses as “non-violent” is the deception and political bullying that has powered this ill-conceived proposition.

The Prop 57 pushers are claiming the only opposition comes from state’s district attorneys who have ulterior motives. Once again, Brown and his politicos are trying to fool the general voting public with mistruths. Proposition 57 is opposed not only by district attorneys but by peace officers’ associations up and down the state. The California Police Chiefs Association opposes Prop 57 as well as several individual Sheriffs who have been strong enough to stand against the Governor, despite his not-so-discreet intimidation tactics. The Southern California Alliance of Law Enforcement (SCALE) is also opposed to Proposition 57 because of its detrimental effect on public safety.

The reasons to oppose this proposition are many.

First, this proposition got on the ballot through the convenient bending of rules and deadlines normally required to define and submit a valid proposition. Proposition 57 was originally written to apply only to juveniles, in an attempt to have more flexibility in sentencing. In a sweeping move, Gov. Brown took a juvenile proposition and completely revamped it into legislation that would release thousands of violent adult criminals and alter the Constitution of the State of California. He vastly changed the scope and spirit without resubmitting a new proposition. Voters must understand the gravity of this deceit.

Second, the disingenuously-named Proposition 57 misleads the public by claiming to be a “public safety” act intent to only affect “non-violent” criminals. However, the proposition does not define “non-violent” and the only effect it will have on “public safety” is a negative one.

And finally we must oppose the practice of our elected officials to continuously push the ill-effects of their failures onto the hard-working people of this state. For the third time, state officials are attempting to transfer the state’s obligation to fix its prison system to local jurisdictions and communities.

Brown enacted Assembly Bill 109 (AB109) and required individual counties to be responsible for inmates who should have been in state prison. Sheriff Departments were forced to overhaul their jail systems – systems designed to house people who were awaiting trial or were sentenced to less than year – into regional state prisons that hold multi-year, sentenced prisoners. This caused the release of thousands of inmates in already-full county correction facilities.

Second, voters were conned by the deceptively named Proposition 47, which touted safe neighborhoods and schools. While it has done next to nothing for any school, it has certainly made neighborhoods less safe. It is essentially impossible to punish criminals who commit the types of offenses that plague California residents such as identity theft, burglary and vehicle theft, leaving thieves free to repeatedly victimize our neighborhoods. Under Prop 47, the state did not shift its responsibility to house criminals, it downright abandoned it.

And now, with the Governor and his politicos pushing Prop 57, the good people of this state are at jeopardy of once again taking the brunt of the state’s prison failures. The problem with our state prison system is a complex one. It cannot be fixed by an elusive ballot measure that attempts to disguise “solutions” as something more than what it is: the simple turning of the key for thousands, upon, thousands of criminals.

SCALE represents more than 35,000 law enforcement professionals in Southern California. We are the men and women who answer the daily calls for service. We are the men and women who leave our families each day in order to protect yours. And we share in your frustrations that there is very little we can do to protect you from repeat offenders who have gotten a free pass from AB109 and Prop 47.

We, like you, are tired of elected officials forcing the burden of their ill-conceived legislation onto law-abiding Californians. We urge you to VOTE NO on Proposition 57.

Prop-57

 

Editor’s Note: You can read more at Stop57.com

*Robert Masson is a Master Investigator with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. He serves as the President for the Southern California Alliance of Law Enforcement, which represents more than 35,000 peace officers in the region.


 

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