Abel Maldonado made it clear that his campaign against Gov. Jerry Brown’s prison realignment program is about stopping criminals like Jerome Rogers, the 57-year-old transient accused of killing an elderly San Bernardino County woman.
There is just one problem: Rogers was never part of the governor’s shift of state felons to county control.
The accused killer had a long history of crimes dating back to the 1970s, including a rape and the sodomy of a 14-year-old. But Rogers was released from prison in 2000, and discharged from parole in 2003 … eight years before Brown’s prison realignment took effect.
His criminal record remained clean until December, when he was sentenced to, and served, 13 days in the San Bernardino County jail for a local registration violation. He was arrested in April and charged with the November 2012 killing of an elderly woman, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
Though Rogers was never released early, including from jail, Maldonado stood next to a giant placard of the man’s mugshot Wednesday and cited him as an example of how Brown’s prison program has gone wrong and increased violent crime. The former lieutenant governor, contemplating his own run for governor, is championing a statewide signature drive to repeal the governor’s program.
Maldonado’s strategist at first insisted Rogers was an example of realignment, then said he exemplified the kind of offender on the streets because of the policy. “It’s people like him,” said Jeffrey Corless.
In the end, the suggestion to use Rogers as an example of realignment came from Mark Klaas, the father of murder victim Polly Klaas, whose 1993 slaying inspired the state’s three-strikes law. Klaas said he relied on a blog that blamed realignment for the man’s criminal history.
“The possibility exists there may be an error in this case,” Klaas said.
Paige St. John
Los Angeles Times