“All dreams welcome” beckons the visitcalifornia.com website, where the slogan plastered across TV screens in cable ads is “dream big.” It’s a big state, filled with natural wonders. Maybe their new slogan should be “all criminals welcome,” because “crime big.”
The Golden State’s biggest wonder is really how stupid California politicians and officials can be. They clearly haven’t figured out what happens when you stop arresting criminals and simultaneously release those who are already incarcerated before their terms are complete.
Let’s review. California legislators passed AB 109, the California Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011. They did this in response to perhaps one of the worst SCOTUS decisions in history–paraphrasing the late Justice Scalia and Justice Alito. The case is Brown v. Plata, and the federal court injunction which SCOTUS upheld ordered California to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates.
Chief Justice Roberts summarized the terrible decision this way. “The three-judge court ordered the premature release of approximately 46,000 criminals — the equivalent of three Army divisions.” (Italics his.) “I fear that today’s decision, like prior prisoner-release orders, will lead to a grim roster of victims,” Justice Alito wrote. “I hope that I am wrong. In a few years, we will see.”
Alito was not wrong.
But why does that make California legislators stupid? Because instead of addressing the core problems that resulted in Brown v. Plata, they simply sloughed off state prisoners to counties, who released them. Simultaneously, AB 109 downgraded some drug and property felonies to misdemeanors, which demoralized overworked law enforcement agencies.
Essentially law and order took a powder in California, as you can see from Berkeley police response to “Antifa” rioters conflict with “alt-right” militia and biker gangs–what David French called “The Battle of Berkeley.” Maybe we should build a wall around the Bay Area and remake “Escape from New York” there? But I digress.
The Los Angeles Times reported from 2013-2015, LAPD’s arrest numbers plummeted a jaw-dropping 25 percent.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego Police Department also saw significant drops in arrests during that period.
The statewide numbers are just as striking: Police recorded the lowest number of arrests in nearly 50 years, according to the California attorney general’s office, with about 1.1 million arrests in 2015 compared with 1.5 million in 2006.
If crime was simply on the decline due to a supernatural revival of goodheartedness in Californians, there’d be nothing to worry about. But, no.
The Public Policy Institute of California, which tracks crime statistics, noted the following:
- California’s violent crime rate saw an uptick in 2015 (despite a nearly 30-year decline)
- Property crime rates also rose in 2015
- Crime increased the most in the San Francisco Bay ares despite large statewide variances
- Violent crime and property crime increased in a majority of counties (nearly 25 percent and 15 percent respectively in Orange County alone)
When you mix a catch-and-release attitude among lawmakers with a large influx of inmates into the population, the impetus to go the “extra mile” by police is diminished. Fox News quoted Whittier’s police chief, whose department lost officer Keith Boyer in February. Boyer’s killer is suspected to be Michael Meija, a convicted felon who’s been in and out of prison several times in the last six years with four parole violations.
“You’re passing these propositions, you’re creating these laws that are raising crime,” complained Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper following the fatal shooting of a member of his force. “It’s not good for our community and it’s not good for our officers.”
The new attitude among law enforcement officials is “why bother?”
Meanwhile, criminals and crime flourish. Dream big, crime big is the new paradigm on the left coast. We’ll see how liberals like the their utopia when law and order take a powder.