By Michele Hanisee
Controversy swirls around AB 109, with the recent murder of Whittier Officer Keith Boyer by a parolee whose multiple parole violations resulted in nothing more than 10-day “flash incarcerations” being the most recent and tragic example of AB 109’s failures. No definitive study has been done on the fallout from AB 109, but anecdotal evidence abounds to rebut the defenders of AB 109 who vehemently insist that its provisions have not made our communities more dangerous.
One repository of evidence of how AB 109 has made our streets less safe is found in the description of 120 persons currently on the “L.A.’s Most Wanted” list of the Los Angeles County Probation website, with whereabouts unknown. For each wanted person there is a recitation of their criminal history, which unquestionably makes them dangerous. Each listing then helpfully answers the next logical question of why county probation is supervising such a dangerous person: “Under the Governor’s Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011, better known as Assembly Bill 109 (AB 109) the responsibility of lower-level offenders was shifted from the State to Los Angeles County,” with the wanted person “qualified to be released to the supervision of probation, under AB 109, because his current commitment offense…was defined as non-serious and nonviolent under the California penal code.”
The laundry list of prior crimes these wanted parolees had been convicted of establishes their dangerousness. They include attempted murder, robbery, lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, oral copulation, sodomy, elder abuse, battery with serious bodily injury, terrorist threats, possession of loaded firearms, and burglary. However, because their most recent stint in prison was for, as the probation department notes, a “non-serious and nonviolent” offense they are supervised by county probation rather than state parole. Of course, if eventually caught these dangerous parolees will face a maximum of 180 days custody[MH1] in county jail, not state prison.
So these dangerous convicted felons have disappeared into our communities and are refusing to report to probation. Would it be cynical to suspect that it is because they are up to no good and perhaps committing more crimes at the expense of L.A. County residents? Of course not. It is a more convenient truth to believe that AB 109 hasn’t made our community more dangerous.
Michele Hanisee is President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.