Reports Show Crime Increasing Across California

By Mike Rushford

Libra Tatt2A recently released report from California’s Police Chiefs indicates that the 2015 increases in property and violent crime in the state’s largest cities is also occurring in smaller communities across the state.  The report, released in late April by the California Police Chiefs Association, projects that California cities with populations less than 100,000 suffered a 15.25% increase in property crime and a 15.41% increase in violent crime in 2015, while smaller cities outside of California are projected to have had a 6.5% drop in property crime and only a 1.3% increase in violent crime.

 
In January the FBI released its Preliminary Uniform Crime Report, which counts crimes in cities with populations of 100,000 or more.  For California the report showed a 12.9% increase in violent crime and a 9.2% increase in property crime from January through June 2015.  The same report found that large cities outside of California had just a 1.7% increase in violent crime and a 4.2% drop in property crime.  The chiefs report noted that the increase in property crime in those California cities is the largest year-over-year increase since at least 1960, while the increase in violent crime is the largest year-over-year increase since 1990.

 

The Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which has been tracking crime rates in California since 1982, attributed the increases to the state legislature’s 2011 adoption of AB109, the Governor’s so called “Public Safety Realignment” law, and Proposition 47, an ACLU-sponsored initiative which spent $8 million (mostly out of state contributions), to convince voters that downgrading drug and theft felonies to misdemeanors would improve public safety.

 

“Realignment and Proposition 47 have left the vast majority of California’s criminals in communities which do not have the jail capacity to confine them or the resources to even keep track of them,” said Foundation President Michael Rushford.  “As many in law enforcement predicted, this has caused major increases in both violent and property crimes and turned thousands of law-abiding Californians into victims,” he added.

 

A recent example involves the May 12 arrest of ex-convict Edgar Alexander Lobos for the forcible rape of a 31-year-old woman in a Los Angeles park 12 hours after his release from jail.  Because of Realignment, he was released after serving just 1/3 of his sentence for a drug-related parole violation.

 

The Foundation also noted that it is probably not a coincidence that after felony drug possession was downgraded to a misdemeanor in 2014 by Proposition 47, communities across the state are reporting dramatic increases in fatal drug overdoses.  Orange County recently reported 400 fatal overdoses last year, the most since 2005, and in April, the DEA reported 42 overdoses with 10 deaths in Sacramento just since late March.

Mike Rushford is the Executive Director of the Sacramento based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

California Death Penalty Found Unconstitutional: Cruel & Unusual?

By Mike Rushford*

Earnest Dewayne Jones

Earnest Dewayne Jones

Shortly after midnight on August 25, 1992, in Los Angeles, Chester Miller returned home from work and noticed the family station wagon was missing from the driveway. Mr. Miller went into his house and found his wife, Julia, lying dead at the foot of their bed. Mrs. Miller’s robe was open, her nightgown was bunched above her waist, and she was naked from the waist down. A telephone cord and a purse strap had been used to tie Mrs. Miller’s arms over her head, and a nightgown had been used to loosely tie her ankles together. Mrs. Miller had been gagged with two rags, one in her mouth and another around her face. Two kitchen knives were sticking out of her neck. Pieces of three other knives were found on or around her body.   Homicide investigators identified Earnest Dewayne Jones, who lived with Mrs. Miller’s daughter, as the murderer based upon significant evidence.

 

The deputy medical examiner with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office who performed the autopsy on Mrs. Miller’s body concluded, on the basis of the following evidence, that she had been stabbed to death: Two knives were sticking out of Mrs. Miller’s neck. She also had 14 stab wounds in her abdomen and one in her vagina, but the fatal stab wound, which penetrated to the spine, was the one in the middle of her chest. Aside from the stab wound, there was no evidence of trauma to the vaginal region.

 

At the crime scene, a criminalist with the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office took swabs of Mrs. Miller’s vagina. Another criminalist found a great abundance of intact spermatozoa on the vaginal swab, leading him to conclude that ejaculation occurred no more than five to 10 hours before Mrs. Miller’s death.  A blood sample was taken from defendant. A molecular biologist for Cellmark Diagnostics performed deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing on the blood sample taken from defendant and on the vaginal swabs taken from Mrs. Miller. This testing yields banding patterns that are, with the exception of identical twins, unique to every individual. There is only one chance in 78 million that a random individual would have the same DNA banding pattern as defendant. The tests showed that the banding pattern in the DNA from defendant’s blood sample matched the banding pattern of the semen on the vaginal swab taken from Mrs. Miller.

Mike Rushford is the Executive Director of the Sacramento based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

Public Safety Continues to Deteriorate Under Realignment

By Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

Libra Tatt2When Realignment took effect in October 2011, many in law enforcement warned of the unavoidable consequences to public safety it would cause.  As the impact of shifting the responsibility for thousands of felons from the state to California counties began to play out, newspapers and television reporters have focused on the issue.  In recent weeks, news reports continue to paint a picture of innocent people fighting for their lives and property against criminals on the street because of Realignment.  The Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation has been compiling reports of crimes committed by criminals free under Realignment for over two years.

 

On February 18, a Central California  woman was luckily able to fight off a criminal who had broken into her home just hours after being released from county jail after conviction for a similar assault.  Patty Guerra of the Modesto Bee reports that 18-year-old Aaron Modisett-Hollie was arrested last December on charges of kidnapping, assault with the intent to commit felony mayhem or rape, and false imprisonment.  He was convicted on the assault charge and sentenced under Realignment to a year in county jail.  The judge reduced the sentence to 89 days after he factored in time served and good behavior credits.  But due to jail overcrowding caused by Realignment, Modisett-Hollie was released on Monday, February 17, after only seven days.

 Aaron Modisett-Hollie

Aaron Modisett-Hollie

According to investigators, hours after his release, Modisette-Hollie saw the woman in her front yard as he wandered her neighborhood and waited until she went back inside her house.  He then broke in through a window and reportedly threw the woman to the floor, but she used a shard of glass from the window to stab him several times.  Injured, he fled the scene and was later arrested.  Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said that the crime was a direct consequence of Realignment, “We house the worst of the worst and we’re forced to release the best of the worst, all due to realignment and jail bed capacity,” he said.  Christianson mentioned that even before Realignment went into effect, his department was struggling with jail overcrowding, and this legislation has only exacerbated the problem.

 

On January 2, Raymond Moreno was arrested in Long Beach and later convicted on charges that include a violation of a gang injunction and being an ex-felon in possession of a loaded firearm, burglary tools and drug paraphernalia.  Prior to Realignment, these charges and Moreno’s prior record would have made him eligible for state prison.  Under Realignment he was sentenced to 180 days in jail and released on February 8 due to jail overcrowding.  On February 9, Long Beach Police report that Moreno approached an unsuspecting victim sitting in a vehicle in the area of 15th Street and Chestnut Avenue and attempted a carjacking, but the victim was able to escape and report the crime.  Moreno was later arrested.  Jonathan Van Dyke of the Long Beach Grunion Gazette Newspaper reports that Moreno is one of many convicted felons whose criminal history represents the dark side of Realignment.  The Long Beach Police Department reports that during 2013, there were more than 800 arrests from Realignment offenders.  Two were for murder, ten were for assault with a deadly weapon, and the rest were a host of other serious felonies.

 Erik Dean Boettcher

Erik Dean Boettcher

A February 20 story by Melissa Pinion-Whitt of the San Bernardino Sun reports that police in Riverside have arrested 34-year-old Erik Dean Boettcher, who was free on probation under Realignment.  Authorities say he abducted and sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl who ran away from home.  On February 14, the victim told police of the attack and officers were able to arrest Boettcher days later.  Investigators say he picked the girl up and drove her to a secluded area where he sexually assaulted her before driving her to a motel where he gave her drugs and proceeded to sexually assault her again.  He is currently being held in county jail without bail.

 

Residents of the Northern California city of Fairfield are being victimized by increasing rates of robberies and violent crimes.  The city’s police captain believes a big contributor to the increase is Realignment.  On February 14, Ian Thompson of the Daily Republic reported that along with increases in violent crimes, the city has also been afflicted with a 43% increase in arson, a 25% increase in auto theft, and a 10% increase in burglary.  City police have partnered with county sheriff’s officers to keep tabs on felons that have been released from state custody, noting that the large majority of people arrested last year were individuals released under Realignment.

 

These stories and new reports indicating that probation officers in Los Angeles, tasked under Realignment with keeping track of thousands of sex offenders, are being overwhelmed and cannot respond to alerts from GPS monitors that have been cut off or otherwise disabled, should be a serious concern to the Governor and the California Legislature.

 

“But Governor Brown’s response has been to set a new record for granting parole to life sentenced murderers, rapists and kidnappers and cut a deal with federal judges to weaken California’s Three Strikes law so that more habitual felons can be released early from state prison,” said Foundation President Michael Rushford.  “How many law-abiding Californians have to become crime victims before those supposedly representing them in Sacramento take action to change this terrible law,” he added.

AB 109: The Release of More Inmates Like Throwing Gas on a Fire!

 

By Michael Rushford

inmates-2009-APAs California continues to experience an increasing number of serious crimes committed by habitual criminals free from prison under Realignment (AB 109) a panel of federal judges has ordered Governor Brown to release another 9,600 inmates by the end of this year.  This order has been appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court, which should delay any releases for several months, but the erosion of public safety under the Realignment law remains a real and growing threat to law-abiding Californians.

 

“If the inmate releases ordered by the federal court are upheld, it would be like throwing gasoline on an already serious fire,” said Michael Rushford, President of the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

 

The Foundation has been monitoring the impact of Realignment on crime in California over the past 20 months.  A preliminary report from the FBI indicates that over the first full year under the new law’s requirement that criminals it defines as “low level” be kept in counties, crime rates have risen sharply.  The Foundation’s analysis of those reports is available here.
Statistics, however, don’t describe what the increased crime means in human terms.  Recent news reports from across California present the real picture.

 

Dustin Kinnear

Dustin Kinnear

Last month, 26-year-old Dustin Kinnear was arrested for the June 18 murder of 23-year-old tourist Christine Calderon in Hollywood.  Kinnear had been released from prison just 11 days prior.  ABC News in Hollywood reports that Kinnear had been arrested over 40 times prior to this attack, seven of those arrests stemming from assault with a deadly weapon.  Realignment does not classify assault with a deadly weapon as a serious or violent crime, which allowed Kinnear to be back on the streets the day he stabbed and killed Calderon.

 

Adrian Madrigal

Adrian Madrigal

On June 21, 62-year-old Napa retiree Don Buffington was stabbed to death in his home in what police believe was a burglary gone wrong.  The suspect, 24-year-old Adrian Madrigal, stabbed the victim multiple times in the torso, and then proceeded to steal jewelry from the home along with the victim’s car.  An article in the Napa Valley Register reports that Madrigal has had several encounters with Napa police over the years and was on probation following a 2012 conviction of assault with a deadly weapon, which Realignment ranks as a non-serious crime.

 

Joseph Munoz, a murder suspect, was arrested on June 23 after his girlfriend Cassandra Deleon lead San Luis Obispo Sheriff deputies on a high speed chase.  CalCoast News reports that deputies had been searching for Munoz after naming him a person of interest in a fight that left a 25-year-old victim dead.  Deleon, was free on probation under Realignment when she led officers on the chase through Santa Maria.

 

A family moving cross-country stopped on June 23 at a Southern California motel for a night of rest.  The next morning they discovered that their moving truck, containing all of their belongings, was stolen.  Doug Saunders of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports that Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detectives arrested Andy Monreal (on the streets under Realignment) after finding roughly half of the stolen property in a storage unit.  Detectives also found a “significant amount of drugs” and a loaded firearm in the unit, and charged Monreal with additional felonies.  Monreal had warrants in two other California cities at the time of his arrest.

 

On June 27, police in Fontana were led on a high speed chase through residential neighborhoods in pursuit of Bryan Keddy, a man released under Realignment and wanted for dealing methamphetamine, which the new law defines as a non-serious crime.  Doug Saunders of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports that during the high speed pursuit, Keddy allegedly rammed his car into a police vehicle to avoid arrest, but was eventually caught and charged with evading officers and assault with a deadly weapon, which Realignment also defines as non-serious crimes.  This is the third time Keddy has been arrested for violating his Post-Release Community Supervision.

 

AB 109 offenders are not only a problem in our communities, they are threatening the safety in county jails across the state as well.  Richard K. De Atley of the Press-Enterprise reports that jails in Riverside County are experiencing a huge increase in violent attacks, citing a 100% increase in violent inmate-on-inmate attacks, and a 50% increase in attacks on jail staff since 2011.  Hardened criminals, that prior to Realignment would serve their sentences in state prison, are creating a dangerous atmosphere for other jail inmates and staff alike.

 

Two stories published in the July 7 Sacramento Bee reported on the 2012 increases in property crimes and the use of methamphetamine in the county, problems that most counties across California are experiencing.  The articles cited cuts in police budgets and the increased sophistication of the criminals as possible causes.  “What these stories overlooked is the fact that Realignment has defined habitual car thieves and drug dealers as ‘non-serious’ criminals who cannot be sent to prison no matter how many times they are convicted,” said Rushford.  “This law is encouraging increased crime,” he added.