Saying “the pervasive atmosphere in which citizens must live is tragic and inexcusable,” Gov. George Deukmejian announced Saturday he is signing 75 bills to increase criminal penalties, aid crime victims and improve public safety.
“Together, the enactment of these laws demonstrates that we Californians are united in our determination to reclaim our communities from the hoodlums and criminals,” the governor said during his weekly radio address. “We’ve had enough, and we aren’t going to stand for this abuse and terror.”
Some of the 75 anti-crime bills, including a $78.8-million crash construction program to add room for 5,000 new prison inmates in existing institutions by next July, already have been signed into law by Deukmejian, who is planning to seek reelection in 1986.
The governor said Saturday he will sign two other bills he requested that are designed to block the release of hundreds of violent, mentally ill prisoners. Both were sent to him by the Legislature before it recessed two weeks ago.
The package is aimed at filling a loophole created when the state’s determinate sentencing law went into effect eight years ago. Before then, those convicted of violent crimes could be held in prison as long as they were found to be a potential danger to the community.
But under the determinate sentencing law, even the most severely disturbed individuals must be released when they have served their sentences.
The new laws will allow the state Board of Prison Terms, with the concurrence of mental health professionals, to commit severely mentally ill prisoners convicted of violent crimes to state mental hospitals even after the prisoners are due to be released. Prisoners who objected would be entitled to a jury trial.
The legislation was sponsored by Sens. Dan McCorquodale (D-San Jose) and Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward). It swept through both the Senate and Assembly on overwhelming bipartisan votes.
Included in the other anti-crime measures Deukmejian said he will sign are bills that would:
- Help local law enforcement agencies gain access to the state’s computerized fingerprint identification system, which was responsible for identifying Night Stalker suspect Richard Ramirez within three minutes. It was authored by Sen. John F. Foran (D-San Francisco).
- Increase prison terms for convictions for robbery, kidnaping, rape and sodomy against people 65 year of age or older, disabled people and people under 14 years old. It was authored by Sen. Daniel E. Boatwright (D-Concord).
- Make it illegal to manufacture, distribute or use so-called designer drugs, which are custom-made by chemists using slightly different formulas to increase potency and escape prosecution on regular drug charges. It was authored by Assemblyman William J. Filante (R-Greenbrae).