Opinion: We can have rehabilitation and public safety — figuring out the best way to do it is the tough part
To the editor: I share your frustration about the misconceptions of AB 109 and Proposition 47. It is important to understand that AB 109, in and of itself, is not an early release program. (“No, criminal justice reforms didn’t cause a Whittier police officer’s killing,” editorial, Feb. 23)
However, as you noted, local jail overcrowding can result in early release to make room for felons shifted to county jails under AB 109. Additionally, AB 109 reduced the one-year prison term for parole violators to a maximum of six months in county jail, which is automatically reduced by 50% to three months or less, depending on jail overcrowding conditions.
I strongly support providing rehabilitative programs including substance abuse and mental health counseling. However, Proposition 47, which reduced possession of certain drugs and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, removed consequences for these crimes and is not providing meaningful rehabilitation. In Los Angeles County, dozens of offenders under Proposition 47 have been rearrested numerous times.
My motion, coauthored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn and unanimously approved by the board, requests a comprehensive report on the case of the man accused of killing Whittier Officer Keith Boyer and a review of the current policies. This is a starting point on the road to developing meaningful solutions at the local and state levels.
This effort will allow for pragmatic solutions to protect public safety and promote rehabilitation, goals I strongly believe are not mutually exclusive.
Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles
The writer is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
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