Recent Increase in Hate Crimes Won’t Be Stopped by Prop 57

By Eric Siddall

Recent news reports confirm an increase in hate crimes. As highlighted by KFI reporter Eric Leonard, elected officials, including District Attorney Jackie Lacey, recently participated in a press conference to encourage reporting of hate crimes. They also acknowledged that the punishment is now limited by Proposition 57.

The number of reported hate crimes reported in Los Angeles County rose 24% in 2015 from the previous year, breaking a seven-year general downward trend, according to a report by the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission.

Yet, despite universal condemnation of hate crimes, Prop 57 gutted any deterrence value or punishment against these very crimes. This is because the punishment of hate motivated crimes comes in the form of an enhancement. Prop 57 now allows the parole board to ignore these enhancements when considering releasing a prisoner. In essence, the person who gets in a bar fight and the person who attacks a victim because of their race will both be eligible for parole at the same time.

District Attorney Lacey acknowledged that hate crimes may become more difficult to punish with the passage of Prop 57. Governor Brown did not join the parade of officials highlighting the increase of hate crimes. This might be because the very people his proposition helps are the very people who are committing these crimes.

Eric Siddall is Vice 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.

Prop 47 – The Ill-Considered Initiative That Keeps on Failing

By Michele Hanisee

In December 2015, Los Angeles County Supervisors asked their various departments for updates on cost savings from Prop. 47. After all, Prop 47 supporters promised hundreds of millions of dollars a year if it passed. Surely the biggest county in the state with 25% of the total population would have reaped the lion’s share of promised savings.

Well, reality checked in on November 15, 2016: there were no savings. As department after department made their official reports to the Board of Supervisors, a dismal message of failure thanks to Prop. 47 was repeated over and over again. As detailed in a Daily News article by Susan Abram, in addition to no savings, the Department of Public Health reported that few people were completing drug treatment. The Sheriff’s Department reported that jail populations were increasing.

It is no surprise to anybody who is realistic about the criminal justice system that Prop. 47 has failed to deliver on its many claims. As Marc Debbaudt pointed out in a previous blog, making many theft and drug cases inconsequential misdemeanors removed any incentive for offenders to enter or complete drug treatment. Law enforcement leaders, including Sheriff Jim McDonnell, commented that removing penalties for theft offenses would only lead to more theft, and sure enough California has seen the property crime rate soar since passage of Prop. 47.

There is, of course, one area where costs of Prop. 47 have been felt. It is in the increased crime rate, with victims suffering economic loss at an increasing rate. We previously cited the Rand Corporation Cost of Crime Calculator to demonstrate the real impact of Prop. 47. Following the various department reports, the Board of Supervisors requested a study on how victims are impacted by Prop. 47.

Prop. 47 supporters remain undaunted, continuing to deny reality when it is staring them in the face. They continue to claim there will be savings, this time targeting the date of those savings as occurring this winter. Of course, in their campaign two years ago the promise was immediate savings of hundreds of millions of dollars upon passage. Similarly, they continue to deny a link between Prop. 47 and an increased crime rate since a study hasn’t been done proving a link. That’s the best they muster as a response when confronted with the sobering fact that California’s property crime rate has increased by nearly double digits each of the last two years, while the rest of the nation has had decreases in property crime rates in the same period.

The simple and undeniable fact is that Prop. 47 was a bill of goods intended only to remove criminal penalties for drug users who steal to support their habits. As I pointed out in October, the Prop 47. fallout continues and California residents suffer as the rest of the nation sees a decline in crime. The false promises of cost savings, drug treatment, and safer communities that were used to obtain passage have not materialized. Every day, the truth of Prop 47’s failure becomes more clear, measured in metrics such as increased crime, more victims, and a decimation of drug treatment programs.

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.

Proposal to free cop killer underscores threat of Prop. 57

By Eric Siddall

The state parole board has again demonstrated the folly of Governor Brown’s radical experiment with public safety– Proposition 57.

Under this initiative, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) would have the ultimate power to release inmates. The sentencing decisions by judges would be disregarded. The legislature’s assign punishment ignored. The plea agreements made between prosecutors and defendants would become meaningless. CDCR alone will decide when felons are released back on the street.

The argument for this shift of power from judges and prosecutors to CDCR is that the parole board is comprised of rational and thoughtful people who would never grant freedom to those who could pose an ongoing threat to society. However, their actions give us little confidence that this is a promise that will be kept.

Most recently, the board for a third time recommended that a brutal cop killer Voltaire Williams be granted freedom. Williams, as you may recall from a number of our previous blogs, played a central role in the 1985 murder of LAPD Detective Thomas Williams (no relation) in front of his young son.

Due to intense pressure from the ADDA and law enforcement agencies throughout the state, Williams was denied parole two previous times after parole board panels recommended he be freed.

However, the idea that someone who helped orchestrate the assassination of a law enforcement professional should ever be allowed to walk our streets simply defies reason. The parole board decision to grant parole to this killer or to Manson Family killer Leslie Van Houten, is evidence, that the parole board will gleefully distribute get-out-of-jail cards to the worst of the worst.

Disturbingly, with the election just a few days away, Prop. 57 appears to have solid support from state voters. A USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times survey showed 57 percent of likely voters are backing this disaster of an initiative, while only 31 percent opposed it.

Prop. 57 represents a clear danger to public safety. It is imperative that all of us do everything in our power to educate voters about the chaos that passage of this initiative will unleash on every community in California. The challenge is enormous, but we must persevere to the very end.

Eric Siddall is Vice 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.

Costly Lies Funded by Facebook

By Eric Siddall

As the public learns inmates convicted of violent crimes will receive consideration for early parole, and all inmates not serving a life without parole or death sentence will be in line for earlier release via newly invented sentence credits, the backers of Prop 57 appear a bit worried. Thus, the news that Mark Zuckerberg gave $1 million to the “yes on Prop 57 campaign”. Apparently, it takes a lot of money to convince people of the falsehoods which are the foundations of Prop 57.

Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg, living behind his gated and guarded estates in Palo Alto or Hawaii, doesn’t care that Prop 57 will allow rapists an early release from prison. Or, maybe just wants to buy a little political influence with the Governor, and figures a $1 million contribution to the issue that Governor is spearheading is a way to accomplish that goal.

As to the Governor, it’s becoming increasingly hard to understand his arguments for Prop 57. On the one hand, the Governor touts Prop 57 because it gives judges the sole power to decide whether a juvenile will stand trial as an adult. This was the cornerstone of the initiative the Governor hijacked so he could bring his inmate freeing scheme to voters. But, apparently, the Governor’s trust in judges only goes so far. To hear the Governor tell it, a Parole Board is in a better position to decide how much time an inmate should serve, not judges who, before imposing sentence listened to victim’s statements, as well as those of the prosecution and defense.

One thing is very clear; Prop 57 is designed to drastically reduce the state prison population, not because of overcrowding but because of an ideology that discards victims and wants to give ever more chances to convicted criminals. Recent changes in the law has have already reduced the prison population and lessened punishments. Realignment legislation transferred nonviolent, non-serious felons from state prison to county jails to serve their sentences. Proposition 36 amended the “Three Strikes” law to release additional inmates. Finally, Proposition 47 reduced many theft and drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, again shifting sentences from state prison to county jail. As a result, the prison population has been reduced 24 percent from the high of 2007.

As Gregory Totten, Ventura County District Attorney made clear, what is also undeniable is that more lenient treatment of criminals has not made the residents of California safer. Instead, violent crime is up, with a 10 percent increase (15,000 more cases) in 2015 alone, including homicides (up 9.7 percent), robberies (up 8.5 percent) and rapes (up 36 percent). Property crime has soared near double-digit statewide in each of the past two years, while the rest of the country saw property crime rates drop.The state Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that if Prop. 57 passes, 30,115 inmates will be eligible for early release. Tragically, the result will be that more residents in California will become victims of crime.

As Jackie Lacy, Los Angeles District Attorney, pointed out, “They are recommending release of people we never would have expected would have occurred so soon. I’m concerned about people who really haven’t served a significant amount of time.”

Zuckerberg’s million dollars cannot hide the fact that Prop 57 allows – indeed, it requires – parole consideration for very serious offenses, including rape of an unconscious person, human trafficking, lewd acts against 14- and 15-year-olds, domestic violence, active participation in a street gang, inflicting corporal injury on a child and assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer. And parole consideration is required after the defendant serves the sentence for a single count (less time off for good behavior), even if the defendant was convicted of additional crimes.

The saying goes that lying is a costly activity. The “yes on Prop 57” campaign is proving this adage in spades.

Eric Siddall is Vice 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.