In 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law California Assembly Bill 109, a piece of legislation designed to relieve overcrowded prisons in accordance with a Supreme Court decision. AB 109 enshrined “realignment” into law – a plan to place supposedly “non-violent, non-serious, and non-sex offenders” in county jails rather than state prisons. In other words, local governments were handed the problem of prisoners the state didn’t want to hold. On January 8, 2013, Brown said, “we’ve gone from serious constitutional problems to one of the finest prison systems in the United States.”
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation calls the realignment plan “historic legislation that has helped enable California to close the revolving door of low-level inmates cycling in and out of state prisons.” But in reality, realignment has created a revolving door for criminals: they cycle in, they leave, and they harm innocent citizens across the state.
David Mulder, 43, was shot and killed by police on Sunday night after stabbing a woman to death in a car near the San Bernardino Freeway. He had been released from prison early under realignment in September.
Last week, a felon with convictions for grand theft auto, drug possession, receiving stolen property, and robbery was arrested for an alleged rape in Fontana. The former inmate, Juan Francisco Aguilera, 30, had been turned over to county supervision.
In February, 34-year-old Raoul Leyva was convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter after beating his girlfriend, 21-year-old Brandy Marie Arreola, nearly to death. She still sits in a wheelchair, and has brain damage. She spent three months in a coma. Leyva was released early under realignment. He had already spent time in the system for domestic violence and parole violation.
These are not isolated incidents. They are evidence of a broad trend. According to statistics provided to Breitbart News by the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, 11,473 criminals have been sent to Los Angeles County jails rather than state penitentiaries since realignment kicked in. Over 43,000 inmates are doing their time in local jails rather than state pen. By 2014, that number will skyrocket to 54,000. Now here’s the kicker: under the Brown realignment plan, Los Angeles county misdemeanor offenders will serve approximately 10-15% of their sentences. Then they will be released. That number will drop as jails become more crowded.
More criminals, more crime. According to statistics from the Los Angeles County Sheriff and Probation Departments, burglaries have increased dramatically, from 175% in Hawaiian Gardens to 45% in South Los Angeles to 50% in Compton; auto theft is up 365% in Artesia, 100% in Marina Del Rey, and 92% in Bellflower. The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation reports that in the six-month period after realignment, California’s crime rates rose across the board, including a 7.6% jump in homicide. The recent Northridge boarding house murderer, who killed four people execution style, was out thanks to realignment. Tobias Dustin Summers, wanted for kidnapping a 10-year-old Southern California girl, was out due to realignment.
For his part, Jerry Brown maintains that we don’t need more prisons. “I don’t think that’s smart, and I don’t think the law requires it, and moreover, management of a prison is quintessentially an executive function,” he said in January. The proof is in our hands, and it is bloody.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).