The vote followed an extended deliberative process commencing with the League’s Public Safety Policy Committee in April, and initial discussion by the board of directors in June and a board delegation attending a meeting requested by Gov. Jerry Brown to discuss the measure in July. Fundamental to the League’s opposition to the measure are public safety concerns stemming from reducing sentences for specific crimes which –despite debates over legal definitions — are clearly violent.
The provision generating the most concern is the change to parole rules for offenders defined as “non-violent” under current law. Under Prop. 57, many offenders would be eligible to seek parole after serving the full term of their primary offense, without factoring in any sentencing enhancements they received in addition to the base term.
Offences that could trigger earlier parole under the measure include:
- Assault with a deadly weapon;
- Throwing acid with the intent to disfigure;
- Rape of an unconscious person;
- Rape accomplished by the use of an intoxicating or controlled substance;
- Discharging a firearm at a motor vehicle; and
- Discharging a firearm at an unoccupied dwelling; and the furnishing of a weapon used in a crime.
If Prop. 57 passes, offenders convicted of such crimes would be eligible for parole at an earlier date. While the Board of Parole Hearings would retain the discretion it has under current law to weigh for itself an inmate’s progress toward meaningful rehabilitation, and deny parole to any offender, the possibility that this particular universe of offenders would potentially be released early has fueled concerns among city officials and the law enforcement community alike.
Compounding concerns of city officials have been the public safety impacts of two recent changes affecting sentencing of offenders which law enforcement officials allege have contributed to recent increases in crime: the 2011 prison realignment measure, that shifted many state offenders into county jails thereby reducing bed space for local offenders, and Prop. 47 in 2014, which further re-categorized many serious crimes as misdemeanors.
The League joins the California Police Chiefs Association and many other law enforcement organizations in opposing Prop. 57. Visit http://www.stop57.com
for more information on the opposition.
A sample resolution
for cities to use in opposition to Prop. 57 is available on the League’s website.