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Michael Antonovich: Realignment : a dangerous ruse

Posted: May 1, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 1, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Editor’s note: The following column was written in response to a news story reporting that Gov. Jerry Brown, after touring California counties to determine effects of prisoner realignment, declared, “I can report ... that realignment is working.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s failure to use his authority to contract with in-state and out-of-state detention facilities to reduce the number of state prisoners when the federal court ordered the reduction of prison overcrowding resulted in his irresponsible and dangerous solution to dump future felons and parolees on the 58 counties through his realignment program, AB 109.

Just in Los Angeles County, as of March 28, more than 20,469 offenders have been sentenced to county jail instead of state prison, and more than 20,346 offenders have been shifted to probation supervision. Among these, 27,332 have been re-arrested, with some offenders being re-arrested multiple times.

Of those sent to county jail, more than 530 inmates have been sentenced to jail terms of five years or more, 43 for more than a decade and one for 42 years.

In a deliberate sleight-of–hand, the governor promised that inmates transferred to county responsibility would be non-serious, non-violent and non-sexual offenders.

But today, more than 60 percent of those under the supervision of the Los Angeles County Probation Department are high-risk and very-high-risk offenders; less than 2 percent are low-risk.

What is shocking is that most of these felons have been convicted of crimes that were plea-bargained down from more serious charges.

With California’s 70 percent recidivism rate, Gov. Brown uses smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that, under realignment, repeat offenders are continuously cycling through the state’s criminal justice system and ending up in local jails.

With little effective scrutiny from the media to date, Los Angeles County residents are unaware of the increased risk, liability, social and fiscal responsibilities of a bigger and more dangerous criminal population — with a strong gang component — assumed by the county.

Realignment impacts public safety. The Sheriff’s Department is now releasing into the community more offenders from county jail who have served no time to as little as 20 percent of their sentences to accommodate more than 20,000 offenders who would have previously gone to state prison.

Unlike state prisons — designed for long-term confinement — county jails are intended as detention centers for individuals awaiting trial, transfer, or completion of short-term sentences.

Further compounding the problem are the never-ending efforts by the ACLU, which I often refer to as the “Atheist Criminal Liberties Union,” and other pro-criminal groups to destabilize the public safety system by calling to defund jails and prisons and utilize phony and ineffective enforcement tools such as GPS monitoring and ankle bracelets.
Ankle bracelets do not prevent crime. In fact, there are dozens of examples in which offenders committed serious and violent crimes while equipped with GPS tracking devices or tampered with them to avoid monitoring.

Recently, two transient parolees were arrested and charged with the rape and murder of four Orange County women while wearing ankle bracelets.

Finally, mental health treatment, substance abuse counseling and other similar services are critically important. But they should be provided in addition to and during — not in lieu of — incarceration.

Public safety must be our top priority. Dangerous criminals belong in public and private prisons, not on the streets.

New and existing cost-effective detention facilities should be maximized to hold criminals accountable, provide opportunities for rehabilitation, and protect public safety.

Michael D. Antonovich is Los Angeles County Supervisor for the Fifth District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley.



ricketzz: Posted: May 1, 2014 7:29 a.m.

This is a ripe environment for liberalizing gun laws. I interviewed a guy who would not rob a grocery store anywhere but California. We are sitting ducks as all the bad guys have a gazillion guns. Cops assume everyone is packing.

I am not pro-NRA, 2nd amendment, etc. I am a pragmatist with open eyes who has lived in 2 very liberal states, re: firearms (Arizona and Texas, fyi). California has it wrong.

Unreal: Posted: May 1, 2014 8:53 a.m.

I am a Christian, Republican and a supporter of the NRA. I also like Mike.

However I do see an issue that this article did not address. The over charging that is done by the DA's. The reason that many are plea bargained down is because so many are overcharged in the first place.

I do not want to see crimes committed OR our legal system used to pass down immoral sentences. The excessive sentences that are meted out are outrageous and the corruption in our legal system is shameful. This is what has led to the overcrowding we have now. At one time we had a higher percentage of our citizens in prison than any other country!

I did see in another article about the new Captain at the local Sheriff station that he seems to want to create a new relationship with our community and mentioned something about having deputies not press charges in instances where the situation is borderline. This is the type of policing that was in place when I grew up. Kids did not end up with records to deal with for the rest of their lives. Normal people and kids where not "targets" of cops and the hostility toward each other was not as intense on both sides as it is now. That is a move in the right direction.

I know Mike is pro police but he does need to take a fresh look at the entire system without his preconceived notions.

tech: Posted: May 1, 2014 10:05 a.m.

"In a deliberate sleight-of–hand, the governor promised that inmates transferred to county responsibility would be non-serious, non-violent and non-sexual offenders.

But today, more than 60 percent of those under the supervision of the Los Angeles County Probation Department are high-risk and very-high-risk offenders; less than 2 percent are low-risk."

"Public safety must be our top priority. Dangerous criminals belong in public and private prisons, not on the streets."

Precisely. This is an unconscionable abdication by the Governor and the Legislature. Where is the media and public outrage to hold them accountable? At the minimum, the Party monopoly must be broken in Sacramento.

"I am a pragmatist with open eyes who has lived in 2 very liberal states, re: firearms (Arizona and Texas, fyi). California has it wrong." - ricketzz

I'm a Lifetime NRA Member and support all the amendments in the Bill of Rights. I concur that CA is abrogating Constitutional rights of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. Lawsuits should not be required to force the state, counties and municipalities to recognize this right.

chefgirl358: Posted: May 1, 2014 11:36 a.m.

Unreal, deputies don't press charges. District Attorney's and crime victims press charges. Deputies are simply the middle man.

I disagree completely with you on the "overcharging" statement. Most of these criminals are plea bargained down from very serious charges. A carjacker/armed robber ends up doing a few days for the lesser charge of joyriding or something equally egregious. D.A.'s don't typically prosecute cases they don't think they can win so there is usually ample evidence to support the crimes committed by these thugs. I understand that plea bargains are a necessary evil in order not to jam up the courts indefinitely (which they are anyway just from sheer volume, court closures and budget/personnel cuts) but they should NOT plea so many criminals out to such miniscule offenses when their crimes were actually truly very bad.

ricketzz: Posted: May 2, 2014 7:16 a.m.

Like I said, responsible citizens have the right to personal defense.

Unreal: Posted: May 2, 2014 11:03 a.m.

chefgirl358: I knew at least one of the hall monitors would come out.

Lotus8: Posted: May 2, 2014 3:17 p.m.

I agree with tech and ricketzz. We need to give citizens a fighting chance to defend themselves against the criminal element in our state, as I fear the government is abdicating responsibility just like they refuse to fix roads and sidewalks anymore. I can deal with a bumpy sidewalk, but how am I to deal with an armed gang member?

We can't even carry things like extendable batons or brass knuckles. Unless you are a karate master, how is one supposed to defend himself? Oh, that's right. The legislators get body guards and are allowed to apply for concealed carry permits while working in a place that has armed guards posted out front along with metal detectors. They could care less as long as they are covered. Silly me for thinking they might actually give two shakes about the rest of us. --edited.

NoLawAgainstCommonSense: Posted: May 7, 2014 5:09 p.m.

I agree that allowing concealed carry permits would reduce crime by acting as a deterrent, as it has in other states. DA's do routinely overcharge the accused, that's a fact, and chefgirl's comments are nonsensical. But none of that is even relevant in this state because the political will is the opposite.

I like Mike sometimes, but the above statement is little more than an attempt to throw Gov. Brown under the bus by blaming him for the fact that counties now have to share the burden. Crime is a tested and true method used by politicians time and again to get people riled up and divert attention.

The news from 1991: crime rates in our state and in the country as a whole have been dropping since 1991 and overall crime is down by more than 50% since that time (measured per capita).

While politicians would like you to give them the credit for this, you would be wrong to do so.

We have some of the harshest criminal penal laws in the history of mankind, for example, the "3 strikes law" and the fact that if you streak a football game or pee in public while in college, you may well be ostracized by society as a "registered sex offender" for the rest of your life. Here in the "land of the free," we have a higher percentage of our population in prison (1%) than any other country on God's green earth.

But again, if you were to assume that we have less crime due to our bloated, hideously expensive, and overcrowded prison system or due to our politicians writing better laws, you would be badly mistaken. More prisons and more cops do help, but not to the extent that crime has dropped, and certainly not in a way which is commensurate with the cost we pay in dollars and in the freedom of our children. Something else is the cause.

The most compelling explanation I have seen is discussed in the link below. There is a strong correlation between childhood exposure to lead and propensity for lower IQ and criminal behavior as an adult. We stopped putting lead in gasoline, and a few decades later the crime rate began dropping.

tech: Posted: May 9, 2014 5:21 p.m.


Concur on the crime rate dropping precipitously. However, there are competing theories to the one you posit.

• Community/broken windows policing as pioneered in NYC and Los Angeles.

• Legalized abortion

Regarding Constitutional rights to keep and *bear* arms, these statistical trends are of interest as well:

Gun Homicide Rate Down 49% Since 1993 Peak; Public Unaware

Self-Reported Gun Ownership in U.S. Is Highest Since 1993

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