California Prison Spending Out of Whack

Where is the de-incarceration dividend? With crime up, Californians have a right to ask why the savings from prison realignment haven't materialized and why an expected $100 million to $200 million in Proposition 47 savings has been budgeted by Gov. Jerry Brown at less than $30 million. After all, the state's prison population has plunged, first from realignment — the 2011 shift in responsibility for many felons from the state to counties — then from inmate releases to meet court-imposed … [Read more...]

California’s Prop. 47 Revolution: How to Spend the Savings

Thousands of felony cases that would have been prosecuted by the office of Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey became misdemeanors late last year because of Proposition 47. Lacey's caseload dropped precipitously — first, because police were making far fewer arrests for drug crimes and theft, so they were bringing in far fewer cases; and second, because so many of the cases they did bring in were now misdemeanors that went to L.A. City Atty. Mike Feuer and his counterparts in a handful of … [Read more...]

LA Police Commission Must Stop Stonewalling Activists

To quell unruliness by activists at its weekly public meetings, the Los Angeles Police Commission last month adopted a set of rules intended to enforce civility. It didn’t work. In fact, it backfired, sending a message that rather than tackle tough topics, the commission just wanted the activists to be quiet or go away. Instead, the unruliness continued. Now, it has gotten so bad that the Tuesday morning meetings are dragging on for hours, the proceedings frequently stopped while chanting or … [Read more...]

A Smaller, Better L.A. County Jail?

A majority of the Board of Supervisors wants a smaller jail. Numerous reform advocates and thinkers want a smaller jail. The Times wants a smaller jail — because for too many years the county has squandered one opportunity after another to provide more humane and effective treatment to accused and convicted mentally ill, addicted and impoverished inmates, and has passed up the chance to invest in programs to reduce the likelihood that jail inmates would, after their release, commit more crimes. … [Read more...]

Give L.A. Sheriff Some Civilian Help

Among the many reforms put in place by the federal consent decree that governed the Los Angeles Police Department for the decade that followed the Rampart corruption scandal was the creation of a new position, reporting exclusively to the chief, to advise him on how to ensure that police work was performed constitutionally. The two people who have filled that post are attorneys with strong expertise in criminal justice and constitutional rights, and they have been well placed to help the chief … [Read more...]

LA Times: County MUST Stop Flunking Public Safety Realignment

Over the weekend, the editors of the Los Angeles Times published another strong editorial that we could have written ourselves. Here is an excerpt: "The state's (by far) largest county ought to be a leader in smart and effective justice, but as other counties have spent their state realignment dollars on programs intended to reduce recidivism, L.A. County has only dabbled in such initiatives and instead spends most of its realignment money on old-school law enforcement, monitoring, and … [Read more...]

Garcetti’s Refocus on Crime Shouldn’t Include Budget Gimmicks

ith the city reporting a rise in violent crime for the first time in 11 years, Mayor Eric Garcetti has refocused his agenda to put more emphasis on public safety. In his State of the City speech Tuesday night, the mayor announced five new and expanded initiatives to address the issue, which is a big change given that last year Garcetti unveiled no new efforts to address crime and only mentioned his commitment to continue hiring police officers at the very end of his speech, almost as an … [Read more...]

How Best to Keep an Eye on the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department

n August, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors rejected the idea of a civilian commission to oversee the Sheriff's Department. That kind of panel would be an extra layer of bureaucracy, the board majority argued, and virtually powerless because the sheriff is directly elected by, and accountable to, the people. In December, however, with two new members, the board reversed course and embraced the idea. A civilian commission is crucial, the new majority argued, in part because the … [Read more...]

California Rightly Revisits Its Tough-on-Youth-Crime Stance

alifornia long led the world in juvenile injustice. Just five years ago, when there were only seven people outside the U.S. serving life prison terms with no possibility of parole for crimes they had committed before they became adults, California had more than 200. They were locked up with no hope for eventual release largely because of cruel and costly laws adopted in a frenzy of anti-crime sentiment in the 1980s and 1990s. Rising gang crime fueled fears that juveniles had somehow become … [Read more...]

Prop 47: Savings and Decisions

Just over 100 days have passed since California voters adopted Proposition 47, which reduced six specific felonies to misdemeanors; and it will be nine more months before the state quantifies and distributes the first year's worth of savings it will accumulate by no longer imprisoning so many felons. So, of course, it's far too early to assess what the initiative has accomplished and what problems, if any, have emerged. Still, there is enough early information to allow the state Legislative … [Read more...]