The truth will defeat an oft-repeated lie

By Eric Siddall

There is a saying that if you tell a big lie and repeat it often, people may come to believe it.  Sadly, this is the path Governor Brown took to gin up support for his early release ballot initiative.

What’s the lie?  He claims his proposed initiative will only lead to the early release of “nonviolent prison inmates“. This falsehood was repeated by the governor in a recent e-mail to supporters. In it, he stressed that this initiative does not apply to violent criminals.

The truth?  Los Angeles Times reporter Paige St. John, who covers criminal justice and investigative stories for the Times, pointed out what the initiative would really do. She wrote, “In practice, the initiative essentially would undo many of the sentencing enhancements added to the penal code by state lawmakers and ballot measures, such as the Three Strikes law, approved by voters.”

We have detailed in past blogs that this initiative gives unfettered power to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to grant early release to all state prisoners. (See Below) The governor knows better than to continue to repeat this falsehood that it only applies to “nonviolent” inmates.  But he also knows propaganda. He knows that Californians will reject the initiative if they know the truth — that it will cause early release for violent felons.

The governor claims this initiative is needed because federal judges will take over the state prisons and release prisoners. Yet, California is currently in compliance with the federal court order. Governor Brown already released 50,000 prisoners to get into compliance. So this too is a verifiable falsehood.

The truth is Brown’s early release initiative will devastate public safety. It will end nearly three decades of successful law enforcement practices. It will end “Three Strikes” as we know it. And, yes, it will mean all state prisoners, even the violent ones, will get early release.

To read previous blogs regarding the early release initiative, please see (1) Low-income communities will be devastated by felon-freeing fiasco(2) L.A. Gangs Will Love Governor’s Ballot Initiative (3) Felon-freeing initiative advances (4) A Radically Dangerous Experiment with Public Safety (5) Wait in Line Governor (6) The Myth of the Nonviolent Drug Offender.

Eric Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys.  He can be contacted at esiddall@laadda.com.  The view and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ADDA, which represents nearly 1,000 Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys.

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