Legislators should cut fat, not jail time

County Supervisor Michael Antonovich called on legislators to cut bureaucracy and waste in Sacramento rather than release 27,000 felons into our neighborhoods."The plan to release criminals into our communities, downgrade serious crimes and enact electronic monitoring is a step backwards in our effort to protect the public," Antonovich said in a statement. "Legislators must look to cut the fat from the bloated bureaucracy that has bankrupted this state - not open the jail cells." Over the last four years, the number of Corrections Department administrators grew by 32 percent, while the inmate population grew by just 2 percent. The Juvenile Justice System added 50 percent more administrators while the number of youth inmates fells by 41 percent. A Harvard University study revealed that for each criminal locked up, there is a reduction of between five and six reported crimes. "Releasing criminals will cost more in the long run as criminals commit additional crimes and are rearrested, retried and re-sentenced - leaving thousands of victims in their path," Antonovich said. According to the Bureau of Justice, stronger sentencing laws over the past 30 years - including Three Strikes - have clearly spared countless Americans from being assaulted, robbed, raped and murdered. In 1973, 44 million crimes were committed. By 2007, that number dropped by nearly 23 million - even as the population grew by more than 75 million. Violent crime has plunged by more than 59 percent since the mid-1990s - from 51 crimes of violence per 1,000 U.S. residents in 1994 to 21 in 2005. Antonovich says the state plan to release prisoners and place them on electronic monitoring threatens public safety. When a parolee on electronic monitoring illegally removes the device or leaves his home, a signal is sent to a contracted vendor - which may be out-of-state or out of the country. That vendor then notifies state parole of the violation. Since state parole is understaffed, they will call the local police department to respond. This lengthens response times and increases the burden on local law enforcement.

********** Published: August 28, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 19