Monday Morning Memo for January 15, 2018
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Initiative to end early parole for more criminals cleared for signature-gathering
Backers of an initiative to reduce the number of violent felons released early from prison have received authorization to begin gathering signatures, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Thursday. What author Nina Salarno Besselman has dubbed “The Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018″would expand the list of crimes considered violent, making those convicted of them ineligible for early release.
2018 Ballot Initiative
Whittier officials push for 2018 ballot initiative to reform A.B. 109, which they blame for Officer Keith Boyer’s death
Nearly 11 months after a Whittier police officer was killed in a shootout with a gang member, a host of public officials from the city and beyond gathered at the Whittier Police Memorial to launch their push for a ballot initiative that would change the state prison-reform laws they blame for the officer’s death.
Child trafficking is nonviolent crime under California voter-approved law
Petition gatherers hit the streets of Sacramento on Thursday, trying to collect enough signatures for a new ballot measure that gets tough on crime. “In current law, rape by intoxication and rape of an unconscious person and a slew of other crimes are not considered violent for our state,” said Beth Hassett, executive director of WEAVE, or Woman Escaping a Violent Environment.
Prop 47 & 57
Shoplifters now more brazen due to Prop. 47
Proposition 47 was supposed to be a crucial component in relieving the overpopulation of California’s jails and prisons and a vehicle for saving millions in costs associated with incarcerating nonviolent, non-serious criminals. But opponents of the ballot initiative have said it has led to a sharp rise in the number of property crimes throughout the state, and tied the hands of the law enforcement community in providing a deterrent against the sort of quality-of-life crimes that impact everyday citizens.
Realignment and recidivism in California
California has experienced significant changes in its criminal justice landscape since the 2011 implementation of public safety realignment-which shifted the management of lower-level offenders from the state prison and parole system to county jail and probation systems. The prison population has dropped dramatically, and though jail populations rose, overall incarceration levels have declined.
Here’s another thing about millennials – they get in less trouble with the police
Members of the millennial generation live with their parents more, have less sex and start families later than prior generations. Turns out they also got in less trouble with the law as teenagers. On average, 5 percent of Californians born between 1982 to 2004 were arrested while younger than the age of 18, according to a new report by the national Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, a nonprofit.
The meanest county in California
This morning I got up, made a quadruple latte, began perusing my Facebook feed and ran across a story about the Redding Police Department receiving naloxone kits. Naloxone is the miracle drug that can revive overdosed opioid junkies like Lazarus from the tomb. There were already a dozen comments on the post, and I knew before looking that at least one of them was going to earnestly suggest why bother raising the dying deplorables from our streets; we’re better off without them.
L.A. child molester to be released after spending 17 years in state hospital awaiting trial
Just before George Vasquez was scheduled to get out of prison, Los Angeles County prosecutors made a plea to the court: Don’t let him free – he’s too dangerous to live in public. While in his early 20s, Vasquez had lured young boys who lived in his South L.A. neighborhood to a spot near an alleyway with the promise of candy. He was convicted of molesting several children, ages 6 to 8, court records show.
25-year-to-life term upheld for sex offender who failed to report his address change
A sex offender who failed to report his change of address was appropriately sentenced, under the three strikes law, to a 25-year-to-life indeterminate term, the Third District Court of Appeal held yesterday. Acting Presiding Justice Harry E. Hull Jr. wrote opinion, which was not certified for publication.
Ninth Circuit reinstates suit over wrongful arrest
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a summary judgment in favor of the County of Los Angeles and a Sheriff’s Office detective in a civil rights action based on the wrongful arrest of a 5-foot seven-inch woman, weighing 110 lbs., named “Tammy Cameron,” while the person being sought was “Tammy Garrison” who weighed 135 lbs. and was five-feet one inch in height.
Cal. Court: No standing to continue PAGA claim after settlement
The California Court of Appeals held late last week that a plaintiff does not have standing to pursue California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims on behalf of the state or other employees once he accepts an offer to settle his individual claims. The court in Kim v. Reins International California, Inc. B278642 (Dec. 29, 2017), held that once the plaintiff accepted the settlement offer, he no longer qualified as an “aggrieved employee” within the meaning of the statute.
Prosecutors reviewing Central Basin director Leticia Vasquez’ residency claims
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office is looking into Central Basin Leticia Vasquez’ residency claim, reviewing Vasquez’ assertion that she lives in her district in Lynwood and not with her husband, attorney Ron Wilson, who lives outside of the district in Los Angeles, a spokesman confirmed. Hews Media Group-Community News confirmed the review through District Attorney spokesman Greg Risling.
State watchdog urges prosecutor to charge Sacramento sheriff over early information release
State Auditor Elaine Howle has urged Sacramento County’s district attorney to file misdemeanor charges against Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones after he preemptively shared information last month about an unpublished audit reviewing how the county issues permits for concealed weapons.
D.A. examining past criminal cases involving L.A. sheriff’s deputies on a secret list of problem officers
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has launched a comprehensive review of past criminal cases featuring deputies placed on a secret Sheriff’s Department list of officers whose histories of misconduct could undermine their credibility in court. Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey said she ordered the examination in response to a Times investigation last month that identified 24 deputies on an older version of the confidential list, including many who were disciplined or convicted of crimes.
Roman Polanski won’t be charged in 1975 L.A. case involving 10-year-old girl – Update
Roman Polanski will not be hauled back into U.S. court over a 1975 case in which a then-10-year-old accused him of sexual assault, a law enforcement source tells Deadline. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office opted not to bring charges because the statute of limitations has expired. “Offense date is outside applicable statute of limitations,” said charge evaluation paperwork signed by Deputy D.A. Michele Hanisee last month.
L.A. prosecutors weighing charges against James Toback
Prosecutors in Los Angeles are weighing criminal charges in five cases against writer and director James Toback. Los Angeles County district attorney’s office spokesman Greg Risling says Tuesday that prosecutors are reviewing two cases from the Los Angeles Police Department and three submitted by Beverly Hills police. Toback, who received an Oscar nomination for writing Bugsy, has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women.
San Francisco man gets 27 years in prison for setting girlfriend on fire: Prosecutors
A man who set his girlfriend on fire in San Francisco’s Bayview District during an argument in 2013 was sentenced this week to 27 years in prison, according to prosecutors. Dexter Oliver, a 27-year-old San Francisco resident, was sentenced on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted murder with an allegation that he caused great bodily injury and had one prior strike on his record.
Want a satisfying experience as a juror? It’s all about the food
When I told friends and family that I had been selected to serve on a jury in D.C. Superior Court, with only one exception, all expressed their condolences first and then added that they could not believe I had been selected. After all, I’m a prosecutor. Two weeks later, after seven days of testimony in Judge John Mott’s courtroom and a day of arduous deliberations, I couldn’t wait to tell them how they had it all wrong.
Man convicted in pier shooting sentenced to time served
The man acquitted of murder charges in the 2015 shooting death of a woman on a San Francisco pier was sentenced Friday to time served on the one count for which he was convicted. The maximum three-year sentence for a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm was satisfied by the time Jose Ines Garcia-Zarate spent in county jail, including credit for good behavior, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Samuel Feng ruled.
Woman who smuggled Salvadoran girl as ‘personal slave’ sentenced to 5 years in prison
A three-judge appeals panel ruled Monday that a woman who smuggled a 9-year-old Salvadoran girl into the country as a “personal slave” could not be forced to pay liquidated damages for minimum wage violations in a criminal case. Dora Alicia Valle pleaded no contest in 2015 to slavery and human trafficking of a minor and was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay more than $93,000 to the girl she had forced to work for her in a Pacoima restaurant.
These Amazon, eBay or Walmart counterfeits could kill you
One-third of online shoppers received an unexpected surprise this year – they unwillingly received a counterfeit product. While some consumers may be confident they can identify fake sunglasses, purses, shoes and handbags, a mistake identifying the items below could be deadly. Amazon, eBay and Walmart take a transaction fee for each item sold.
Wildfires, Aliso Canyon, crime, taxes are focus for LA County’s state lawmakers
A bill by a Los Angeles-area state senator would protect homeowners against losing their insurance after wildfires like the ones that tormented California in 2017. That’s just one example of how issues commanding local state lawmakers’ attention in the new year seem to be ripped from the headlines, including the disastrous fires, the Aliso Canyon gas leak, worrisome crime trends and, inescapably, sexual harassment scandals.
A note to L.A. County’s supervisors: Stop naming things after yourselves. It’s obscene
Hey, here’s an idea: Let’s rename the L.A. Convention Center for Mayor Eric Garcetti. Right now. And how about a magnet school for L.A. Unified board member Kelly Gonez, now in her seventh month of service? And Doug Jones, that new U.S. senator from Alabama – he ought to get at least a library or a garage or something. Well, why not? That’s how it’s done, right?
Let’s support firefighters; cops will be next
As California firefighters battle the Santa Barbara blaze, their pension rights are under fire in the courtroom. Opponents of organized labor hope to score a major victory against firefighters in Cal Fire Local 2881 v. California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS). In Cal Fire, firefighters challenged a provision of the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013, known as “Airtime.”
California pension battles play out in court
A state appeals court ruled that overtime, severance pay and on-call pay cannot be included in pension formulas for public employees in the latest in the seemingly ceaseless battle over pensions in California. A three-judge panel of the First Appellate District in the California Court of Appeals attempted to strike a balancing act on Monday between a lower trial court ruling that set forth a rigid interpretation of the state’s pension reform and public employee unions that wanted to give discretion entirely to County Employee Retirement [CERL] boards.
California’s Brown raises prospect of pension cuts in downturn
California Governor Jerry Brown said legal rulings may clear the way for making cuts to public pension benefits, which would go against long-standing assumptions and potentially provide financial relief to the state and its local governments. Brown said he has a “hunch” the courts would “modify” the so-called California rule, which holds that benefits promised to public employees can’t be rolled back.
California governor adds voice to benefit cases
California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. is intervening in several court cases that ultimately will be decided by the California Supreme Court, arguing that public worker pension benefits in the state can be reduced during employment. If the court agrees with the governor, it would mark a revolutionary change from a ruling it made more than 60 years ago that pension benefits are guaranteed from date of hire.
LEO Mental Health Act signed into law by President Trump
President Donald Trump has signed into law the “Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act.” The bill passed the Senate Tuesday night. It passed the House in November. The new law make grants available to initiate peer mentoring pilot programs, directs the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to develop resources for mental health providers based on the specific mental health challenges faced by law enforcement, and provides funding for studying the benefits of crisis hotlines and annual mental health checks for officers, WANE reports.
After Sheriff’s Deputy is stabbed in the chest in Santa Clarita, man pleads not guilty to attempted murder charges
The man accused of stabbing a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy in the chest outside a fast food restaurant in Santa Clarita has pleaded not guilty Wednesday to attempted murder charges in the case, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office announced. Donald Chinchilla, 21, pleaded not guilty to deliberate, premeditated attempted murder of a peace officer.
Matthew T. Mangino: Police officer deaths down, homicide up
There was a sharp decline in police officers killed in the line of duty last year. In 2017 there were 129 officers killed in the line of duty – 14 fewer than the year before. In 2016 there were 66 police officers killed by gunfire, that number dropped by more than 30 percent in 2017.
The number of officers killed last year marks the second lowest death toll in more than a half-a-century.
Nationwide, police shot and killed nearly 1,000 people in 2017
For the third year in a row, police nationwide shot and killed nearly 1,000 people, a grim annual tally that has persisted despite widespread public scrutiny of officers’ use of fatal force. Police fatally shot 987 people last year, or two dozen more than they killed in 2016, according to a Washington Post database project that tracks the fatal shootings.
Watch the LAPD videos of a controversial police shooting on skid row that have been kept secret for years
The controversial police shooting of Charly “Africa” Keunang on skid row was watched by millions around the world when a bystander posted video online. But for almost three years, the Los Angeles Police Department has kept crucial recordings captured by the officers under wraps.
High tech, low tech: Big U.S. cities embrace twin approach to crime
Gun violence in major U.S. cities fell in 2017 as police used the latest crime-fighting software combined with a revival of old-fashioned community policing to build trust with a skeptical public. Law enforcement officials and criminologists credit that dual approach with helping extend the decades-long reduction in crime in New York City and reducing gun violence in Chicago by 20 percent in 2017.
Why Hollywood’s homicide rate shrank as assaults rose – a commander’s unfiltered analysis
I look at crime stats the way I used to look at baseball statistics when I was a kid. Now, instead of checking on Sandy Koufax’s strikeouts, I check the homicides in each Los Angeles police division. The other day, on the LAPD website, I came across one stat that struck me as stunning, though in a good way.
Stockton hopes to curb gun, gang violence through monetary incentives
Stockton is moving forward with a million-dollar effort to reduce shootings by training and paying suspected violent offenders to put down their weapons and make something of their lives. Council members voted 6-1 in favor of the program, which promises to decrease gun violence, after a heated public comment session during Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Tobacco shops associated with crime in urban communities of color
Tobacco shops, also known as smoke shops, may represent potential “nuisance properties” in urban communities of color, a study led by a researcher at the University of California, Riverside has found. Nuisance properties are properties where unsafe activities affecting public health and safety occur repeatedly.
Can fruit and veggies cut crime? Police and nonprofit are giving it a try
Whether cops helping feed the needy actually cuts down on crime is a hard thing to quantify. But almost everyone agrees on this: A Miami police effort, working with the nonprofit food distribution group Farm Share, has made cops and some poor communities they serve at least a little bit closer. Some people who once wouldn’t talk with officers on the beat now do.
San Francisco averages 1 car break-in every 17 minutes
Every 17 minutes a car is betting broken into in San Francisco. And in just the past year, the number of auto-break ins increased by nearly 25 percent. Today city supervisors are teaming up with SFPD Police Chief Bill Scott to roll out a new plan aimed at curbing property crime. “We are notoriously known as the City of Broken Glass,” said Supervisor Norman Yee.
From Southern California to Charlottesville, local hate group extends reach and fists
It was about 10 a.m. on Aug. 12 when the melee erupted just north of Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia. About two dozen white supremacists – many equipped with helmets and wooden shields – were battling with a handful of counter-protesters, most of them African American. One white man dove into the violence with particular zeal, using his fists and feet to attack one person after another.
3 days into new job, Philadelphia DA Krasner fires 31 staff members
New Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner fired 31 members of the office three days into the job. The move makes “clear his intention to take the office in a different direction,” spokesman Ben Waxman told philly.com. Before winning the election last year, Krasner was a civil rights attorney who often sued the government, including law enforcement.
SCOTUS hears case about Florida-Georgia water dispute, won’t hear cases about police shooting, treehouse
The Court agreed to hear the case of Florida v. Georgia, which centers around a decades-old dispute over the freshwater that starts in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains – as well as in a spring just south of the Atlanta airport – and meanders hundreds of miles before finding its way into the Gulf of Mexico via the Apalachicola River.
Gov. Jerry Brown plants the seeds of his next chapter on a ranch in rural Northern California
The thought lingered with Jerry Brown, perhaps sustained through the years by an old black-and-white photograph in his state Capitol office. The image is a man with a long, white beard feeding his sheep in a rustic 19th-century setting. California’s longest-serving governor told himself that one day he should do something special with all of that rolling Northern California acreage that once belonged to his great-grandfather August Schuckman, the man in the photo.
Five things you need to know about Gavin Newsom
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is running as the heir apparent to Gov. Jerry Brown. The former mayor of San Francisco, Newsom was the first candidate to announce a 2018 gubernatorial campaign, way back in February 2015, offering that he’d rather be candid than coy about his plans. Newsom, a Democrat, originally sought the office in 2009, but stepped aside after Brown made it clear he was running.
Bill would award workers’ comp to off-duty CA cops injured in Vegas shooting and other out-of-state crimes
California police officers wounded in October’s Las Vegas mass shooting while off-duty could receive public injury benefits under a bill introduced by an Anaheim state assemblyman. Assemblyman Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, who introduced the bill on Jan. 3, said he authored the legislation after Orange County denied workers’ compensation claims from four of its sheriff’s deputies injured during the shooting.
NPR investigation finds hidden epidemic of sexual assault
We are about to bring you voices of people who’ve hardly been heard in the national conversation about sexual harassment and assault. They are Americans who are exceptionally vulnerable. Yet, up to this moment, their experience has rarely been discussed. NPR’s Investigations Unit spent a year reporting on sexual assaults against people with intellectual disabilities.
In prison, it’s hard to tell if you’re dying or just depressed
“Again?” replied my cellie, Jay, after I asked him to step out for the third time in 90 minutes so l could use the toilet. “My doctor says it’s normal,” I insisted. Actually, I don’t feel normal. I’m always tired, no matter how much sleep I get. Last week, I nodded off at a meeting-even though I was outside and standing up. My mouth and eyes always feel dry, despite my drinking 100 ounces of water a day.
Humboldt County tackles recidivism by giving inmates a plan – and hope
Vanessa Vrtiak’s passion and commitment light up a room – even if that room is a cell block in the Humboldt County Correctional Facility. As a Programs Coordinator for the Sheriff’s Office, Vanessa is focused on helping inmates break the cycle of recidivism. It’s no easy task, but one to which she is committed no matter how many times they find themselves back behind bars.
California examines prison guards’ high suicide rate
Correctional Officer Scott Jones kissed his wife goodbye on July 8, 2011, and headed off to a maximum-security prison in the remote high desert of northeastern California. He never came home. Jones’ body was found a day later, along with a note explaining why the 36-year-old took his own life: “The job made me do it.” Suicide is distressingly common among current and former California prison employees.
NRA gears up for major clash with California over State’s bid to control ammunition
The National Rifle Association is getting ready to file a lawsuit that will take aim at the state of California’s attempt to control the sale of firearm ammunition. As of Jan. 1, 2018, California no longer allows its citizens to purchase ammunition from out-of-state. Instead, ammo must be bought from licensed dealers within California.
Most illegal attempts to buy guns online fail
Most attempts to illegally buy guns online fail, according to a study by federal investigators who found the internet serves as a small loophole for firearms purchases. Federal agents posing as illegal gun buyers failed in nearly all of their dozens of attempts to purchase guns online, according to the multiyear study that tried to examine how current firearms laws could apply to purchases over the internet.
Gun owners flood justice department with pleas to leave bump stocks unregulated
The National Rifle Association may have gotten its way when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced it would revisit its decision not to regulate bump stocks. By putting the onus on the bureau, the NRA helped defuse bipartisan momentum for a Congressional ban on the rapid-fire devices, whose public safety risks were made clear by the mass shooting in Las Vegas last October.
Marijuana use is a likely death sentence for a military career, even in California
California has become the latest state to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana. The military is still figuring out how to handle this societal shift, but for now, marijuana can still easily end a military career. San Diegans saw the societal shift on January 1, as long lines formed outside Urbn Leaf. The outlet had already been selling marijuana for medical use since March.
In clash between California and Trump, it’s one America versus another
When drivers entered California recently from the borders with Arizona and Nevada, they were greeted with signswelcoming them to an “official sanctuary state” that is home to “felons” and “illegals.” It was a prank, but the message was clear: By entering California, they might as well have been entering foreign territory.
Gun rights of medical marijuana patients called into question
Even before Attorney General Jeff Sessions moved to roll back protections for state programs legalizing marijuana use, questions about the implications of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program had begun to gain steam. Lawmakers, law enforcement officials and gun rights advocates had been warning people that they are at risk of losing their right to purchase or own firearms by signing up for medical marijuana.
Marijuana legislation: The future of Prop. 64 remains hazy
In November 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64, legalizing recreational marijuana use in the state. Beginning Jan. 1, recreational marijuana businesses began popping up in the Golden State. In Tulare County, two dispensaries are set to open in Woodlake. With a new industry buzzing and the promise of billions in sales tax, there remains uncertainty and confusion across the state and locally.
L.A. Council President Wesson challenges Feds on marijuana laws
Los Angeles Council President Herb Wesson recently responded on the city’s behalf, to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s announcement that he has rescinded the Cole Memo, a document aimed at ensuring that the Federal Government takes a hands-off approach to states that have made marijuana sales and use legal. Wesson’s response was to solidify L.A.’s transition to legal marijuana.
LA Fire launches ‘sober unit’ to pick up intoxicated homeless people
Five days after President Donald Trump took office, he signed an executive order that promised a swift, The Los Angeles Fire Department has begun picking up heavily intoxicated homeless people from LA’s streets. The new “sober unit,” which operates out of Fire Station 4 on Temple Street near Skid Row, will serve as a year-long pilot program to see if the city might benefit from a “network of sobering centers and pick-up teams for inebriated homeless people,” NBC4 media partner KPCC reports.
California state lawmakers to ask for additional $10M to help immigrants from El Salvador
Two California state lawmakers are planning to request an additional $10 million in state funds in an effort to help immigrants from El Salvador who are now facing deportation. Assembly members Miguel Santiago and Wendy Carrillo – both Democrats from Los Angeles – are planning to ask that an additional $10 million be put toward a state legal defense fund, the Los Angeles Times reported.