Reading Between the Talking Points

By Michele Hanisee

Two recent “op/eds” by opponents of the Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018 reveal them to be misleading talking points masquerading as original opinions of the authors. We put together a document that isolates those talking points, and it appears the only “original” parts of the pieces are the names of the purported authors – Robert Parker and George Eskin – and the infantile insults ducked in at the end of each piece.

Length prohibits a line by line response to the pieces, but we highlight a few and respond below in italics:

Parker: “Proposition 47, for example, has not only reduced the state’s prison and jail populations, it’s also already produced more than $100 million in savings that have been reallocated to crime prevention and public safety programs in local communities across the state.

Eskin: “Thanks to Prop. 47, the state has already reallocated more than $100 million of savings from reduced incarceration back into local communities.”

The prison population was reduced as a result of a federal mandate and was accomplished by transferring state inmates to county jail, or outright early release. The “$100 million savings” from the three years of Prop 47 is far less than what was promised and has been achieved at the expense of citizens and merchants in our communities who have suffered losses from unchecked thefts and burglaries.

Parker: “57, did not authorize automatic release from custody”

Eskin: “they claim that violent criminals are being released into our communities automatically under Prop. 57.”

Nobody has claimed that Prop 57 authorized “automatic” releases; the objection is to early release of violent inmates, something voters were assured by the initiative proponents would not happen. Prop 57 never used the word “violent” but instead referenced “non-violent” offenders without ever defining what the word meant. That intentional drafting error has led to early release of many violent inmates, imprisoned for crimes such as taking a hostage, stabbings, and assault with a deadly weapon.

Parker: “Further, every study done on the question has found Prop. 47 is not responsible for any upticks in crime.”

Eskin: “Further, they claim that Prop. 47 is responsible for an increase in crime, despite the absence of evidence supporting this assertion.”

The passage of Prop 47, in conjunction with the transfer of prisoners to county jail under AB 109, made many property crimes virtually consequence free. There is only one study that claims be a “systematic” study of the link between Prop 47 and the increasing crime rates. The report on that study stated in the initial conclusions that for larceny in 2015 Prop 47 did have an impact” and “the larceny effect appears significant.”

Finally, from both pieces there is the following:

Parker: “80 percent of the parole hearings held under Prop 57 have ended in denials.

Eskin: “80 percent of the parole hearings held under Prop 57 had resulted in denials.”

Parker: “relies on falsehoods and empty scare tactics”

Eskin: “same kind of false rhetoric and empty scare tactics”

Parker: “we must stay the course.”

Eskin: “We must continue to press forward.”

These last talking points highlight not only the willingness of the purported authors to act as political puppets who are ready and willing to parrot whatever agenda is provided to them, they also illustrate the failure of the opponents of this measure to offer any substantive critique of the initiative’s proposed changes. We invite Parker and Eskin, or the true authors of their “op/eds” to explain to us and the voting public why rape of an unconscious person or stabbing a person, or exploding a bomb with intent to injure are not violent crimes. Or why increased penalties for repeat thieves and organized theft rings are unjust. Or why restoring DNA collection for some misdemeanor offenses is contrary to the public safety. We would also love to hear why their letters to the editor are nearly identical. We are happy to engage in that substantive debate and we won’t need any ghostwriters to craft our arguments.

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.

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