State Senator's Bill Takes Aim At Realignment, AB 109
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Aimed at making the state’s realignment plan more workable for local sheriffs and police chiefs, state Sen. Jim Nielsen , R-Gerber, introduced Senate Bill 708 , a measure to send habitual felons directly to state prison, not county jails.
“Realignment has unleashed an unprecedented crime wave, and a lot of very dangerous felons are now in our communities,” Nielsen said Tuesday.
“These are repeat habitual offenders who have obviously not been amenable to any treatment or rehabilitation, and they are going to continue to victimize us,” he said.
Specifically, Senate Bill 708 provides that a defendant who is convicted of a felony and has three or more prior felony convictions belongs in state prisons.
AB 109 Problems
Locally, more than one-third of all criminals who are released under AB 109 , which is known as the Post-Release Community Supervision Act are re-arrested, according to Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station  statistics.
Under AB 109, which is also known as realignment, misdemeanor offenders are serving about 10-15 percent of their sentences prior to release. Once maximum jail capacities are met, the amount of time served will continue to decrease.
With an increasing load of convicted felons in their jails, California counties have been forced to release defendants awaiting trial as well as parole violators and other offenders who have not completed their terms.
The early release of these prisoners has led to a steady stream of both property and violent crimes in neighborhoods across the state, a statement from Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s office echoed Nielsen’s sentiment.
“The governor's failed realignment program is a proven threat to public safety, which has overwhelmed probation departments and local law enforcement agencies statewide,” Antonovich said.
Sheriff’s Station officials have not commented on whether there’s a direct link between AB 109 and the rise in petty thefts, burglaries and larcenies, citing the fact that it’s too early to draw conclusions without a formal study, and statistical analyses have been skewed by the city’s recent annexations.
However, in the last year, stationwide statistics bear out a notable rise in less-serious crimes, such as burglaries and larcenies, which are the type of offenses for which parolees generally receive “flash incarcerations,” which are 7- to 10-day sentences for violating parolees.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station
While the SCV Sheriff’s Station still has the lowest crime rate of any area in L.A. County, with the exception of Catalina, the crime numbers have risen.
The number of reported burglary incidents have increased by more than 56 percent in a year-to-year comparison, according to LASD statistics .
Sheriff’s Station officials  have not commented on whether there’s a direct link between AB 109 and the rise in petty thefts, burglaries and larcenies, citing the fact that it’s too early to draw conclusions without a formal study, and statistical analyses have been skewed by the city’s recent annexations.
“We have to review the bill before any decision was made,” said Sheriff spokesman Steve Whitmore. “We have to monitor (the bill) and see if there are any changes that are going to be made. Right now, the sheriff believes that the county is managing the AB 109 population.”
“Improvements are always welcome,” Whitmore said. “But we have to take a look at it first to make sure that's what it is.”
Senate Bill 708 is part of a package of proposals that Nielsen is introducing to change the state’s public safety realignment plan.
SB 708 is expected to be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, during National Victims' Rights Week.
Local jurisdictions are struggling to meet the increasing demands of housing convicted felons who, before the state mandated realignment program, went to state prison.
“The crime wave California leaders have unleashed on us demands the full attention of the Legislature and the governor,” Nielsen said. “For criminals, the lack of consequences promotes further and escalating victimization of citizens."
From the text of AB 109:
“Community-based punishment” means evidence-based correctional sanctions and programming encompassing a range of custodial and noncustodial responses to criminal or noncompliant offender activity. Intermediate sanctions may be provided by local public safety entities directly or through public or private correctional service providers and include, but are not limited to, the following:
(A) Short-term “flash” incarceration in jail for a period of not more than 10 days; (B) Intensive community supervision; (C) Home detention with electronic monitoring or GPS monitoring; (D) Mandatory community service. Source: AB 109 .
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