Monday, October 27, 2008

What Happens When People Like Me Get Pissed and Write Laws

Have you ever wondered what draws a person to becoming a sheriff or district attorney? I understand someone wanting to get into law enforcement, wanting to serve and protect their community from criminals, but at what point does one start to see it as a stepping stone to power? And crime victims; who can't empathize with what they must be going through, but some people just get through it and try to get on with their lives while others become crusaders like John Walsh and some become crusaders for some really bad laws. Hook a crime victims group up with a DA and a sheriff and you get things like Propositions 6 and 9.

Bear in mind that California already has an unfunded deficit (this year) of $15 Billion. Without identifying any source of funding, Proposition 6 calls for a billion dollars of additional funding for criminal justice programs, increased jail time for certain offenses, and increased parole costs. Did I mention that California is already under a federal court order to expand its prison system, because the funding for that isn't in here. No new street cops either.

Proposition 9 calls for... well, basically it calls for enforcement and expansion of Proposition 8, "Victims' Bill of Rights" from the 1982 election, restricts early release of inmates, and changes the rules for granting and revoking parole. It prioritizes restitution to victims above any other fines or obligations a criminal might owe, and that's pretty straightforward. It also expands notification to victims of the release of persons prior to trial and, although suspects are presumed innocent until they are convicted, I can see the sense of that. I'm reasonably sure that exempting the victim from providing material for discovery is a Constitutional problem, but it's 2008 and I could be wrong about that.

Prop 9 requires that the Legislature and counties fully fund prisons and jails so that prisoners don't have to be released early to comply with the Federal Court orders. It would also require lifer convicts to wait at least 3 years between parole hearings and give victims' families 90 days notice instead of 30 days notice and a rehearing every year. Once again wading into Constitutional issues, it also seeks to extend the length of time (mandated by federal court order) we can keep a parolee locked up on a parole violation before giving him a probable cause hearing and a revocation hearing.

Prop 6 does address the craziness of releasing undocumented aliens on low bail or their own recognizance. If you don't see the hole in that theory then we should talk about a multi-level marketing opportunity I know of.

There are good reasons why people like me aren't encouraged to write laws - and I'm not under the stress of being a victim of a violent crime. DAs and sheriffs should know better than to take advantage of them, but then they are what they are.

We're $15 Billion in the hole this year and things ain't looking good on the horizon for an early recovery. We're already under court orders to deal with prison and jail overcrowding and health care for prisoners, and then there are those pesky street cops and firefighters and health care providers and educators and... Do you get where I'm going with this? When you factor in the inevitable legal challenges, I think we should just work toward real enforcement of existing law and see how that works for a year or two.


Blogger Kay Dennison said...

Great points! I'd like to see laws enforced properly for a change.

11:43 AM  
Blogger joared said...

Well you certainly got that right. There are so many laws on the books now I doubt if law enforcement even knows what they all are. Makes perfect sense to me we'd be wise to just enforce the ones we have or repeal them. Reminds me of regulations at the Federal level that didn't get enforced and contributed greatly to the mess our financial world is in.

7:45 AM  

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