From Bob Hertzberg: Let’s follow Kentucky, but only when convenient

By Esperanza “Espie” Free

California State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) has logged some serious miles in his endless journey to try to find a state he can hitch his no-bail wagon onto.  

First, he touted New Jersey’s pretrial system as the model for California. 

Bob Hertzberg, right.

Bob Hertzberg, right.

But when New Jersey’s nine-month old experiment began crumbling, Hertzberg turned his attention to Washington, DC as the model for California. 

But his infatuation with DC didn’t last long. When Washington, DC police chief Cathy L. Lanier was deciding to transition to the head of security for the National Football League, she told the Washington Post that the city’s pretrial system “is beyond broken… You can’t police the city if the rest of the justice system not accountable.” The Post wrote, “Lanier has previously expressed frustration with the criminal justice system and said it allows for repeat offenders to be released.”  

After the Lanier’s comments, Hertzberg then high-tailed it down to the greener pastures of Kentucky, a state he is now trumpeting as latest model for California. 

Wait a second. Kentucky? Isn’t this one of California’s pariah states? After all, just a year ago Hertzberg voted for Assembly Bill 1887 – a measure to ban California public officials from traveling to and patronizing states like Kentucky over gender equality issues. Specifically, Hertzberg supported a bill that would:

“Prohibit a state agency and the Legislature from requiring any of its employees, officers, or members to travel to, or approving a request for state-funded or state-sponsored travel to, any state that, after June 26, 2015, has enacted a law that voids or repeals, or has the effect of voiding or repealing, existing state or local protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression or has enacted a law that authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, as specified, subject to certain exceptions.”

With Hertzberg’s AB 1887 vote, he was vilifying Kentucky’s branches of government for failing to ‘protect the civil rights and prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, among other characteristics.’ 

On Aug. 23, Sen. Hertzberg lead a rally in support of SB 10 on the north steps of the California State Capitol where Hertzberg stated, “I just came back from Kentucky last week and I sat in a court room where there were a hundred dispositions and I watched people for six dollars a day, get home monitoring system.”   

Yet never mind the ethics and moral conviction. With political expediency again a priority for a desperate Hertzberg, Kentucky is no longer a backward, wayward state but a progressive one with regard to justice.

Even if we ignore the “moral failings” of Kentucky’s government, their pretrial system is a terrible model for California. Judges and prosecutors in Kentucky criticize the state’s pretrial system saying that it is bad for crime victims and public safety. Fayette County’s prosecutor has gone so far as to have bumper stickers printed saying, “catch and release is for fish, not felons.”  

If the Kentucky system is so great, why is the Louisville jail overcrowded, housing nearly 2,300 inmates with only 1,800 beds?

This is as shameless at it is embarrassing. You can’t have it both ways, Bob. 

Esperanza “Espie” Free is a local leader in Norwalk, working with local schools, law enforcement agencies and local community organizations to help parents, teenagers and families in need. Such programs include training domestic violence counselors and working with inmate outreach and prison ministry programs.