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Good intentions gone wrong — electorate can rectify the problem

Californians are compassionate at their core. They love to give second chances, especially to people who may have made a wrong turn and need a helping hand to get back on track.

That’s what the people had in mind when they cast their votes for Proposition 57 in 2016 — creating an opportunity for a second chance.

Proposition 57 was sold to voters as a chance to lend a helping hand to misdemeanor lawbreakers. It would give criminals convicted of nonviolent crimes the opportunity to apply for early parole and take their first steps back into society — a second start for people who veered off track.

This proposition was a call for compassion that Californian answered. Unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished.

Proposition 57 provided a loophole for dangerous criminals. The language that allowed nonviolent criminals to rejoin the community also — unbeknownst to voters — applied to some convicts who committed horrific crimes.

California has a very specific definition of violent crime. State law only singles out 23 felonies as “violent.” Inmates convicted of crimes that aren’t on that list became eligible for early parole when Proposition 57 passed.

So what kinds of crimes are considered “non-violent?”

Raping an unconscious person, human trafficking of children, exploding a bomb to injure people are just a few examples. Thanks to a poorly written initiative, people convicted of these kinds of crimes can now be released back into the community long before they serve their full sentence.

The politicians behind this initiative told us one thing, but the reality was very different. We were told that people convicted of sex crimes wouldn’t be able to get out early. That was a lie. Sadly, the state will be forced to follow the language in the law and consider these convicts for early parole.

Even though it passed with the best intentions in mind, Proposition 57 has turned out to be a disaster. It needs to be fixed.

Assembly Republicans are working on solutions to undo the damage. An initiative called the “Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act” may give California voters the chance to right the mistake. We are also supporting bills that add crimes that slipped through the cracks to the state’s list of violent felonies.

Californians are compassionate but we have our limits. Some people deserve a second chance, while others need to serve their entire sentence. The law must reflect those values. As it stands, Proposition 57 is a public safety disaster. 

Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle serves the 1st district in the California Legislature, which includes all or parts of Butte, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties.

3 thoughts on “Good intentions gone wrong — electorate can rectify the problem

  • If parole boards are incapable of judging whether a person is dangerous to society we should abolish parole and force all criminals to serve their full terms.

    This article sounds like an excuse to artificially increase the number of people incarcerated in California so that Prison companies and their shareholders can profit more from our tax dollars.

    California has over 600,000 people incarcerated today. The rates of violent crime are near historic lows throughout the state. We are safer now than we have ever been.

    This fear-mongering is unwarranted- let parole boards do their job reducing our taxes by avoiding paying for needless incarcerations. That is tax relief we can all agree on.

  • Doc Boggs is way off base on this one. My wife was attacked and injured in an attempted robbery of her business.The heroin parole only served 2 years on a 7 year sentence.Our judicial system is a joke.We need a deterrent system that works.Clean out the death row inmates with capital punishment.That will open up some available beds! If criminals know there is a consequence to their actions crime would really drop. Too many soft bleeding hearts in California for that to happen unfortunately.

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