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Thursday, 28 July 2016 12:23

Turlock Crime Rising and Another Prison Population Reduction Law on the California Ballot

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Citizens and Police Chief claim these laws have impacted crime in Turlock and a new effort toward prison population reduction efforts is heading to the ballot. Citizens and Police Chief claim these laws have impacted crime in Turlock and a new effort toward prison population reduction efforts is heading to the ballot. Eric Escalante/TurlockCityNews.com
As the Turlock City Council and Turlock Police Department address crime trends and a better plan to provide public safety, a priority concern of Turlock citizens, another law is on the Nov. 8 election ballot that will affect crime throughout the State of California.

Assembly Bill 109 and Proposition 47 have been attributed by both police and citizens to have noticeably impacted crime in Turlock. With notable impacts experienced in Turlock as a result of previously passed laws, Turlock voters will be deciding whether Proposition 57, another law geared toward prison population reduction, will be the right path for the State to take.

AB 109, which was opposed by local District-12 State Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R), was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2011. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has designated it as part of a historic legislation that puts a stop to the “revolving door of low-level inmates cycling in and out of state prisons.”

"For too long, the State’s prison system has been a revolving door for lower-level offenders and parole violators who are released within months—often before they are even transferred out of a reception center. Cycling these offenders through State prisons wastes money, aggravates crowded conditions, thwarts rehabilitation, and impedes local law enforcement supervision," stated Governor Brown in 2011.

AB 109 mandated that individuals sentenced to non-serious, non-violent or non-sex offenses will serve their sentences in county jails instead of state prison.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Post-Realignment offenders returned to prison at a significantly lower rate than pre-Realignment offenders (7.4 percent and 32.4 percent, respectively). This was one of the intended effects of realignment from AB 109.

Proposition 47, which a majority of Stanislaus County voted against, saw a similar attempt at reducing the populations of prisons. The law reduced crimes such as petty theft, receiving stolen property and forging/writing bad checks when the amount involved is $950 or less to misdemeanors. People in prison who were serving felony sentences for these crimes are eligible to be resentenced.

Turlock Police Chief Robert Jackson has addressed both AB 109 and Prop 47 as definite impacts to crime in Turlock.

“Both have dramatically changed our criminal justice systems in California, and, unfortunately, our community has seen the brunt of those changes,” stated Chief Jackson.

Councilwoman Amy Bublak, a retired Police Officer, addressed citizens' concerns about public safety and requested that the City of Turlock management address crime trends.

State laws affecting public safety and rising crime trends in Turlock were noted during a presentation by the Police Chief and discussion of Councilmembers at a City Council meeting.

Another possible change to the criminal justice system in California stands to be decided in November’s election with Proposition 57.

Prop 57 would allow parole consideration for people convicted of nonviolent felonies upon completion of the primary offense’s full prison term.

It also authorizes the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to award credits for rehabilitation, good behavior, or educational achievements that can be used toward the prison sentence. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would adopt regulations to implement new parole and sentence credit provisions that enhance public safety.

Juvenile court judges will also make the determination, upon the motion of the prosecutor, if a juvenile age 14 and older should be prosecuted and sentenced as an adult.
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Prop 57 would present a change that could save California tens of millions of dollars to the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually. This would come from the reduction in the prison population from the additional paroles and credits.

During a City Council meeting, Turlock Neighborhood Watch Facebook group member and local Turlocker Greg Oliveria addressed his displeasure with the Prop 57 coming to the November ballot.

“I know Prop 47 and AB 109 has presented some definite challenges for you guys, and we’re absolutely seeing that we’re reaping the benefits of that. I don’t know why that got passed. I don’t know what anybody was thinking, but now... Prop 57 is coming up and there’s nothing good on that, absolutely.”

Prop 57, Prop 47, and AB 109 all have a similar base, that prisons are overcrowded and more money can be saved by changing the system to focus on preventative and rehabilitative measures.

Long time City Council attendee and local Turlock resident Milt Trieweiler addressed the prison population in America and stressed the importance of preventative measures and using what is already available to City Council.

“I’m hearing over and and over and over again that this problem began with AB 109 and Proposition 47. Council, citizens of Turlock, the United States of America composes of 6 percent of the world population. We have 25 percent of the incarcerated people in the world,” stated Trieweiler.

“I think that is not becoming a solution.”

“You got to find solutions without more money, that’s what I’m saying, and you’ve got to utilize what you already have.”

With Turlock already feeling the effects of Prop 47 and AB 109, and Turlock crime already rising, Prop 57 once again stands to affect crime at both the state level and local level.

Prop 57 will be heading to the ballot on November 8.

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