Do you hear the voices of the Realignment victims calling?
Like the weight of the Sun
Is anyone keeping track of the growing victim count of “Public Safety Realignment?” local news outlets report local events, but does anyone monitor this problem on a statewide basis? Maybe some victim advocate organization or a state senator would like to take on the assignment. No one should rely on the Department of Corrections or some research group to do this; the information would not be reliable.
Here are a few news stories I came across:
“In the early morning hours of Dec. 2, 2012, four people were found brutally shot and killed just outside an unlicensed boarding home in Northridge. The primary suspect was Los Angeles resident Ka Pasasouk, 31. “Pasasouk is one of over 11,000 post-released supervised persons currently under the supervision of the Probation Department pursuant to [Gov. Jerry Brown’s] Public Safety Realignment program — AB 109,” Antonovich and Yaroslavsky wrote. “Absent AB 109, Pasasouk would have been the responsibility of the state and under the supervision of a parole officer instead of being the responsibility of the county and under the supervision of a probation officer. Counties across the state have been grappling with the enormous burden shifted to them under AB 109 since it took effect on October 1, 2011.” “
San Diego Tribune
“Eleven men, once pegged as lower-level criminal offenders, have been charged with committing violent crimes in San Diego County since a new law shifted responsibility for supervising them from state to local authorities, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. Among them is Joseph Todd Hall, who was charged with murder after his younger half-brother was shot in the head at their mother’s home. Hall, 37, later pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced this month to a 26-year prison term. Before the sentencing, his mother criticized the county Probation Department, expressing frustration over what she viewed as lack of contact from the officers who were supposed to supervise him.”
“Public Safety Realignment.” This innocuous term is of course government-speak for “realigning” people out of prison where they belong and onto the streets of California’s cities, with the greatest share of them coming to roost in and around Los Angeles.
The LAPD’s Central Division, for example, is home to the city and county governments and to many of Southern California’s major banks and law firms, but it also has the city’s highest concentration of ex-convicts. Last year in Central there had been but one murder as of this time; this year there have been five. In Southwest Division, home to the University of Southern California, there have been 18 murders so far this year compared with ten a year ago.
“Convicted sex offender Sydney Jerome DeAvila was in and out of the San Joaquin County jail 16 times for a variety of parole violations and other minor offenses over a two-year period. Two weeks after his last jail stay in February 2012, police say he raped and murdered his own grandmother, dumping her in a wheelbarrow the backyard of her home.”
CBS 47 Fresno
“Michael Crockell had been sentenced to three years in prison for domestic violence. That was about a year before the murder. He was released from prison and put on county probation instead of parole. That's because Crockell was sentenced under AB109, the state's prison realignment plan designed to reduce prison overcrowding. Crockell's conviction – domestic violence – is not considered a violent crime under AB109. The man accused of killing a Fresno woman and stabbing a police officer was in court Monday.”
“More jail inmates in Los Angeles County are being set free after serving only a fraction of their sentences because of budget problems and a space crunch caused by an influx of offenders now serving their terms in county jails rather than state prisons.
The releases are benefiting even inmates sentenced to jail for violence and sex crimes, with those offenders released after serving as little as 40% of the time they were meant to spend behind bars, according to Sheriff's Department records obtained by The Times under the California Public Records Act.
The early releases have raised concerns among some on the Board of Supervisors. Supervisor Gloria Molina accused Sheriff Lee Baca of cutting the time inmates serve “willy-nilly” and of failing to explain his rationale to the board. In an interview Friday, Molina said the early releases do a disservice to the victims of crime.
“Everybody wants to make sure their neighborhood is safe,” she said. “I don't think people in the general public have any idea that [criminals] are not serving as much time as possible.”
“Everybody here wants offenders to be accountable for their criminal behavior,” Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald said. “There's not enough money…. There aren't enough resources. Today, Los Angeles County houses about 6,000 inmates under the program, with some sentenced to lengthy terms. The Sheriff's Department is not releasing those inmates early. Although the county received funds from the state to house the additional inmates, it was not enough, said McDonald…”
The irony of this last story is that Assistant Sheriff McDonald was with the Department of Corrections when Realignment kicked off. Knowledgeable, forthright, respected? These would not be words that would come to mind to describe her. It sounds like she is trying to find someone or something to blame for the implementation of the great “Public Safety Realignment” fiasco.
The real tragedy here is the toll on the victims. There is no comfort in the whining sounds of Senator Steinberg and his ilk trying to “cure” the criminals with taxpayer funded training, education, medical care, etc. What can be said or done to ease the pain and suffering of the families of the many victims?
Here are some selected lyrics from the song, Timeless, by the band, The Airborne Toxic Event. The embedded video follows.
As she disappeared alone in the darkness,
I felt her spirit stay in the room.
And I wished that our lives were just endless
Cause it's all too short, and I'm leaving soon.
I want to hold on to all of the people I lost,
I want to keep them with me.
We will never part.
We are timeless, timeless.
Everything we have, we have,
Everything oh my god.
Well this hole in my heart, that I cannot abide
Just help me through this moment
After everything I told you
How the weight of their loss is like the weight of the sun.
I see their faces near me,
I hear their voices callin,
It was like their lives were over before they begun.