By Michele Hanisee
Governor Brown, having been rebuked multiple times in the past month by the California Supreme Court for “abuse of power” in issuing pardons and commutations, has now resorted to a lawsuit aiming to prevent voters from enacting common sense fixes to his badly flawed Proposition 57.
The soon to be ex-Governor is now attempting to block the “Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act from appearing on the 2020 ballot by claiming the Secretary of State erred in setting the number of valid signatures needed for the initiative. That measure had received sufficient signatures to appear on the 2018 ballot, but multiple counties failed to verify signatures by the deadline imposed by the Secretary of State. Of course, the Governor and his office never registered any objection when the Secretary of State published the required signature threshold, nor did he attempt to intervene via a lawsuit before the signature gathering effort commenced.
What is notable about the lawsuit is that it reinforces the utter duplicity Brown used to gain passage of Prop 57. Brown deliberately repeated the falsehood during that campaign that only “non-violent” inmates would be eligible for early release under Prop 57, knowing full well the voters would never have approved an initiative granting early release to inmates convicted and sentenced for violent crimes.
However, as we have pointed out repeatedly during the campaign and since, the failure to define who qualified as a “non-violent offender” left the prison doors open to many convicted of arguably violent crimes. Not only were violent prison inmates made eligible for early release, many have since been released thanks to Prop 57. Now, in a cynical move that directly contradicts his false assurances to voters, Brown’s new lawsuit argues that the proposed fixes to Prop 57 should be thrown off the ballot because it would make it harder for violent offenders to obtain early release.
Governor Brown was able to fool voters last time, but the documented release of multiple violent inmates thanks to Prop 57 has terminated that talking point. His recently filed lawsuit is a desperate attempt to prevent voters from correcting the failings of Prop 57.
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.