Vote NO on Prop 57: Violent Crime in California 2015

Violent and property crime are on the rise in California and I can prove it.
 
Annually, the California Attorney General collects, analyzes, and reports statistical data, which provide valid measures of crime and the criminal justice process to government and the citizens of California.
 
On July 1, 2016 Attorney General Kamala Harris issued a report on Crime in California 2015. The comparative crime tables in this blog were pulled from that report.
 
All of the tables are based on the number of crimes committed per 100,000 population. Population statistics come from the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
 
Pay attention to 2015, because violent crime increased by an average of 10% across all categories.
 
Violent crime categories:

  • Murder (the killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent, malice aforethought (prior intention to kill the particular victim or anyone who gets in the way) and with no legal excuse or authority)
  • Rape (non-conseusual sexual intercourse that is committed by physical force, threat of injury, or other durress)
  • Robbery (the taking of money or goods in the possession of another, from his or her person or immediate presence, by force or intimidation) and
  • Aggravated Assault (an attempt to cause serious bodily injury to another or cause such injury purposely, knowing, or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life; or attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly cause bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon).

Violent Crime in California 2010-2015

YearTotalHomicideRapeRobberyAggravated
Assault
2015166,5881,86112,79352,78599,149
2014151,4251,6979,39748,65091,681
2013151,6341,7457,45953,62188,809
2012160,6291,8787,82856,49194,432
2011155,3131,7947,67854,35891,483
2010163,9571,8098,32558,10095723
Number per 100,000 Population

Violent Crime in California 2010-2015

Year(s)TotalHomicideRapeRobberyAggravated
Assault
2014 to 201510.09.78.58.1
2013 to 2014-0.1-2.8-9.33.2
2012 to 2013-5.6-7.1-4.7-5.1-6.0
2011 to 20123.44.72.03.93.2
2010 to 2011-5.3-0.8-7.8-6.4-4.4
2010 to 20151.62.9-9.13.6
Percentage Change per 100,000 Population

Violent Crime in California 1993-2015

Year(s)TotalHomicideRapeRobberyAggravated
Assault
2015166,5881,86112,79352,78599,149
2014151,4251,6979,39748,65091,681
2003204,5912,4029,91863,597128,674
1993336,1104,09511,574126,347193,904
Number per 100,000 Population

Violent Crime in California 1993-2015

YearsTotalHomicideRapeRobberyAggravated
Assault
2014 to 2015+10.01+9.66+36.14+8.50+8.15
2003 to 2014-25.9929.355.25-23.5028.73
1993 to 2003-39.13-41.34-14.31-49.66-33.64
Percentage Change per 100,000 Population

A Small Act of Kindness: My Meeting With Joe Biden

Shortly after the truth was revealed about the death of my daughter Polly I met with a powerful politician. During the course of our fifteen minutes together or perhaps it was thirty; I experienced an act of compassion and kindness that retains a special place in my heart. The meeting did not change my life, indeed my life had been profoundly changed in the month prior to the meeting, but it did provide me with insight, clarity and a sense of hope that had heretofore escaped my grasp.
 
In December 1993, I was invited to Washington DC to meet with President Clinton. During the course of my three days in the nation’s capitol, and for a variety of reasons, I was afforded extraordinary access to America’s political elite. Many of them wanted to strengthen their law and order credentials in preparation for the next year’s election, because public safety was a primary issue of the day. I know that a few tried to enlist me to carry water for their pet criminal justice legislation. Perhaps some of them were simply being kind in the face of personal tragedy. However, there is no doubt that I represented the novelty of the moment because one powerful Congressman declared that people like me represented a “dog and pony show”.
 
Unfortunately, I have been unable to retain many of the details from that profoundly sad time in my life. Like a legally, but not totally blind person who sees outlines but not detail, my heavy veil of sadness filtered detail leaving impressions with varying degrees of clarity. I do remember being shuttled among offices and meeting a variety of Senators and Congresspersons. Always surrounded by staffers, they would sit with me for a few minutes, express their condolence, talk about their pet projects and we would pose for the inevitable meet and greet photo.
 
At one point I wakded alone into a beautifully appointed but darkened room. Senator Joe Biden was seated on an easy chair in front of his desk. He was alone. There were no aides or handlers anywhere in sight. The Senator motioned for me to sit on a matching chair across from him, about three feet away. In a quiet voice he told me to call him Joe. He expressed his condolence as had so many before.
 
Then, as is Joe Biden’s style, he filibustered for the next several minutes. Quietly and with great compassion, he recounted the story of his own tragedy. He talked about losing his young wife and infant daughter in a catastrophic automobile accident when he was first elected to the United States Senate. He told me about his personal anguish and his moral crisis. He showed me an object; a gift from his deceased wife that he always keeps on his desk as a reminder of her love. Not her loss. He asked me how I was doing. We chatted. He talked about strength, family and faith. When we concluded Joe hugged me and wished me well.
 
For a brief moment in time we were simply two men who had experienced profound loss, but in truth I was the recipient of a gift. More than anything else Senator Biden served as an example of how to reconstruct a shattered life. If he could recover after having lost so much; if he could live a life of dignity and accomplishment then so could I. I have had many encounters with the Senator since then, but the subject of the meeting has never come up. I share this personal moment because it is important that people understand that Vice President Biden stands apart as a politician and as a man.

Violent Crime in California 2010-2015

Table 1: Violent Crime in California
Number per 100,000 population

Violent Crime in California 2010-2015

YearTotalHomicideRapeRobberyAggravated
Assault
2015166,5881,86112,79352,78599,149
2014151,4251,6979,39748,65091,681
2013151,6341,7457,45953,62188,809
2012160,6291,8787,82856,49194,432
2011155,3131,7947,67854,35891,483
2010163,9571,8098,32558,10095723
Number per 100,000 Population
Table 2: Violent Crime in California
Percentage change

Vote NO On Proposition 57

CV4Crime victims have always been the “odd fellow out” of the criminal justice system. We’ve never experienced equity with the criminals, are not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, and until recent times have been treated as an afterthought by the officers of the court. However, in recent decades we have made strides to change this through a series of hard fought victories that have provided us with rights, protected innocent citizens, and held criminals accountable for their actions.

CV3All of that will be torn asunder If California’s Proposition 57 passes on Election Day. Prop 57’s early release clause will provide violent felons with a pathway to early release because it defines obviously violent crimes as non-violent. Rapists, kidnappers, human traffickers, killers and other violent offenders will leave prison well before they have served their sentence. If that happens California will have re-established the same turnstile system of justice that resulted in the kidnap, rape and murder of my daughter Polly as well as unprecedented crime wave we experienced in the 1980-90’s.

CV1Many victims testify against their abuser only because the prosecutor promised that the abuser will be incarcerated for a guaranteed period of time. How safe will they feel knowing that the promise has been broken and the criminal is walking the streets? How many future victims will be willing to testify against a criminal knowing that they can be released at any time? How safe can any of us feel in a world that recycles dangerous felons through a revolving door of escalating violence and diminished consequences?

CV2Proposition 57 is a cynical and dangerous initiative that, if passed, will kneecap crime victims, endanger innocent citizens, and allow vicious felons to be released from prison without consideration for the nature of their crimes.

CV5Ask yourself this question: Should criminals convicted of HUMAN TRAFFICKING involving sex acts with a child be allowed back on the streets before serving their full sentence? If you answered no please join Police, District Attorneys, Crime Victims and local community leaders to stop the insanity by opposing Proposition 57.

Madyson Middleton and Cecil the Lion

Maddy Maddy

Two stories of murder and mayhem gripped our collective consciousness this week. On Sunday we heard the first ominous reports of a missing 8-year-old girl in Santa Cruz, CA, and on Monday it was revealed that an American dentist had stalked and killed Zimbabwe’s famed Cecil the Lion. Within days revelations about the death of the child spread a veil of sadness over the San Francisco Bay Area. As the truth emerged surrounding the death of the lion an explosion of anger and hatred gripped the entire nation, if not the world. My question is why would the death of an animal, any animal, trigger a collective emotional reaction that dwarfs that of the rape and murder of a little girl?

Maddy AJMaddie Middleton was a sweet little girl who was minding her own business, playing in her yard, and enjoying a warm summer afternoon when 15-year-old neighbor AJ Gonzales lured her into his apartment with the promise of ice cream. Once inside Gonzales attacked, bound, raped, beat and strangled the little girl to death before dumping her remains in a recycle bin like a piece of trash. While this outcome shocked everyone from the boy’s mother to the casual television observer, the visceral reaction barely registered when compared to the outrage over the death of Cecil the Lion.

Maddy CecilMinnesota dentist Dr. Walter J. Palmer traveled to Zimbabwe to hunt and kill a lion with a bow and arrow. He paid $55,000.00 to secure proper permits, hired professional trackers and guides to ensure that his hunting expedition would be legal and successful. Cecil the Lion was wounded with an arrow, stalked for 40-hours, killed, skinned, and beheaded. Dr. Palmer’s claim that he was unaware that the lion was lured from a protected national park are speculative at best.

Maddy PalmerProtests have sprung up in front of Dr. Palmer’s home and office calling for his extradition to Zimbabwe and prosecution over the death of Cecil the Lion. Countless hours have been invested on various Cable News outlets about Dr. Palmer’s lack of empathy, calculating ambitions, and cold soul. Countless death threats and the scorn of a nation have driven him underground.

UntitledIronies cascade upon each other. The very same people who are demanding that Dr. Palmer be extradited to Zimbabwe either ignore or are unaware that Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist since 1980, is one of the most egregious human rights violators on the face of the earth. Between 1982 and 1985 alone he was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of 20,000 of his own countrymen who were then buried in mass graves. Where are the protests against Robert Mugabe?

 

Of course, the larger and more alarming irony is that the outrage over the death of an animal is so much more amplified and visceral than the outrage over the murder of a little girl. I am not defending Dr. Palmer. I think that what he did is despicable and he should be ashamed of himself. However, the killing of Cecil the Lion is not comparable to the murder of Maddy Middleton. I understand that certain people are more invested in animals than they are in children. Without conservationists, zoo keepers, and others who work to protect animals our world would be far less satisfying. But never forget, Cecil was the king of the jungle and challenges to that authority can emerge from anywhere. Maddy was a defenseless child with hopes, dreams, and aspirations. She cannot protect herself, so it is our responsibility to protect her. This is not apples and oranges. This is about priorities, and sometimes I fear that our priorities need a serious adjustment.

2015 Amber Alert Update

Amber-Alert-Logo-on-Crime-Background-jpg--1-The KlaasKids Foundation has just completed a comparative analysis of 52 State and Regional Amber Alert plans. We provide a link to the official site, the jurisdictional law enforcement agency, the Amber Alert contact, activation criteria, activation plan, and scope of the Amber Alert. While there are numerous similarities between the plans, there are many differences as well. If you wish to know how your state stacks up against the rest simply click here to find out.

 

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have AMBER Alert plans. The AMBER Alert system has also been adopted in the Canadian provinces and continues to expand into the Mexican Border States.

 

According to the most recent statistics, since 1996, 734 children have successfully been recovered through the issuance of Amber Alerts. Of course many of these children were victims of parental abduction. That occurs when a non-custodial parent takes his or her child(ren) without permission and does not return them to the custodial parent.

 

Unfortunately, few of the cases that truly require an Amber Alert ever receive one because the cases do not fulfill all of the required criteria. For instance the kidnappings of Polly, Elizabeth Smart, Danielle VanDam, Amber DuBois and Adam Walsh would not have qualified for Amber Alerts in most states because they were either not taken in front of witnesses, the abductor was unknown, or the make and model of the getaway vehicle was not known.

 

The criteria required for Amber Alert activation was created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as was the decision to use the Emergency Alert System as the primary technology for delivery and distribution.

Amber HagermanThe Amber Alert was created in response to the kidnapping and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bike near her home in Arlington, Texas on January 13, 1996.

Why DNA is Important to You

child safety capsuleDid you know that personalized medicine is not only rapidly growing, but taking on new meaning with the advances being made in genetic research?  So how could this impact your interest in Child Safety?

 

The GENiSYSS Child Safety Capsule is a “time capsule” that collects all the crucial information for emergency response plus DNA.  That includes medical history and information, contact information for family and friends, fingerprints, photos, audios, distinguishing characteristics, all the information law enforcement and medical responders need to quickly search and hopefully find your child.

 

The deeper advantage is that this information, including the DNA sample taken as a tiny drop of blood in our DNA wells containing patented material to keep the DNA whole and safe for many years, can be taken forward into the child’s adult life.  Why would this be important?

 

Medical science is able to use DNA from earlier in a person’s life, and hopefully prior to that person’s daily exposure to smog, cigarettes, radiation (even from the sun), chemicals and poisons that actually change our DNA.  It’s these changes that are at the root of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autism, Touette’s Syndrome and many other diseases and conditions. If “cleaner” early DNA has been stored and is available, DNA can help predict, prevent and treat these diseases before they become problems in a person’s life.

 

Wouldn’t you like to have a device that is useful during your child’s life to keep crucial information stored and at your fingertips in case of emergency?  Wouldn’t it be great if that same device could be important to your child as an adult?

 

To learn more, visit the GENiSYSS Indiegogo Campaign Page.  You’ll be amazed at what you learn, and how easy it is to be prepared for an emergency while your child is young and vulnerable with a device that is important to your child as an adult.

Hannah Graham’s Parents

Hannah 2

If missing University of Virginia coed, 18-year-old Hannah Graham’s parents experience is anything like mine was when Polly went missing, they are dominated by turbo charged states of fear, anxiety and anger.

Hannah 1

Not scary movie fear that subsides after two hours: instead, a tsunami of unrelenting emotion that causes perpetual sweat, takes you to the edge and hurls you into the abyss.

Hannah 3

The anxiety nearly paralyzes you, making it almost impossible to eat, sleep, or focus on anything  beyond recovering your missing child.

Hannah 4

They are angry at their inability to get a grip on the situation, at the police for not finding Hannah, and at their God for allowing her to be touched by evil.

Tornado-Photos-and-Wallpapers-1

They are in the midst of a category 5 tornado that they are unable to control, that offers no respite, and from which they are unable to escape!

The Glass Half Full and Child Safety

It was expected to be 106 degrees in Patterson, CA yesterday. Packing lightly, I left my apartment to pick up Danielle [LaMar] from the BART station – ready to head down to the inferno we all call central California. Our three hour mini-roadtrip, though hilariously misdirected as we crossed Sacramento County when we were supposed to be going south, was smooth sailing as we caught up on each other’s lives and the latest in both of our family’s cases.

 

My first time doing a KlaasKids Print-a-thon was in Patterson nearly a year ago – the October right after we found Michelle. At that time, I was adjusting to a new normal as I started involving myself with the organization that helped find her. That October, I promised myself, Michelle and KlaasKids that I would be involved with this team for the rest of my life.

 

It was a strong commitment to make, to say the least. Recently, with the trial coming up, I have been reflecting on this new normal that I’ve made and how rapidly and dramatically my lifestyle, hobbies and attitude have changed as a direct result of her death.

 

I have always believed in optimism – making and seeing things better and brighter. Michelle’s murder presented what was possibly the most challenging situation to be optimistic about; it was senseless, cold, brutal violence that gashed into our lives and made us realize how dark and evil human nature really can be. We, as a society, see robberies and crimes every day on the news, hear about weird zombie cannibals on bath salts, maybe mingled briefly with others who have faced tragedies of their own – but until you taste the same sense of bitter anger, confusion, hopelessness and desperation for answers, you feel shielded from all the world’s woes.

 

Then there are families who are brave enough to hear about the world’s woes, and not only acknowledge, but face the fact that they should be preventative about protecting their children. Not by avoiding, but embracing, the conversation about child safety.

 

Danielle, Marc, Violet and I headed to the Patterson festival ready to meet and help those families.

 

Also joining KlaasKids was Tabitha Cardenas, who lost her own 4-year-old son in early 2011 in Patterson. I had a chance to meet Tabitha last October; she is truly a strong woman with a beautiful smile that seems to defy all that happened to her and her young boy.

 

At print-a-thons, there is no darkness. Parents line up with their little ones whose ages range from a couple months old to 18 years old, ready to get them fingerprinted and ID-ed. We meet children and teens of all sorts of personalities – from super hyper to rebellious to autistic or with a mental disability – but all children have the same thing in common. They are all lovely, young and trusting – all with the potential to be lost or kidnapped.

 

These parents wait in line to do one of the best things they could do for their children – prepare to talk to them about child safety. They watch proudly as their child gets fingerprinted and laugh as their sons and daughters smile broadly at our camera. They know that it’s better to be safe than sorry, that the conversation about child safety isn’t something to avoid – that it could be fun and educational.

 

At the end of the day, we fingerprinted over 260 kids and met dozens of families and parents in the sweltering heat of Patterson. Over 260 kids went home with their bio sheets, safety tips and DNA kits. Hopefully, over 260 kids will have the conversation with their parents about child safety and crisis prevention.

 

I left the print-a-thon with a spoonful more optimism.

 

KlaasKids’ print-a-thons have historically helped over a million children. We can only hope our families’ stories helped 260 kids at Patterson; heck, we’d be happy if our families’ stories helped even one more family out there.

 

A year ago, I was in a dark place. Now I find myself in love with our organization, our searches and the volunteer heroes that we get to interact with on a daily basis. If the abductors, kidnappers and murderers expected our families to back down and whimper at our losses, I hope they know that our optimism overpowers whatever power they think they have. That our loved ones’ legacies far outweigh their pitiful, rotten existences.

 

Now that’s looking on the bright side of things.

 

As Danielle and I head back to the East Bay, the temperature drops to a thankfully cooler 88 degrees. The sun is shining brilliantly as we wish those 260 kids the happiest – and safest – futures that they could have.