SACRAMENTO -- A new law changing where some criminals serve their time is prompting anger from certain lawmakers who believe the state again is reneging on its promise to keep those convicted of violent and other serious crimes in state prisons rather than county jails.
California's sweeping realignment of its criminal justice system took effect nine months ago to address court-ordered reductions in overcrowding at state prisons. When the plan to shift thousands of inmates to county jails was unveiled local governments were promised only those convicted of nonviolent, nonsexual and "non-serious" crimes would be moved to local lock-ups.
The Associated Press first reported days after the law took effect in October that at least two dozen offenses shifting to local control could be considered serious or violent, prompting angry responses from local officials who felt blindsided. Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation last week shifting 10 crimes back to state prisons. Among them are several involving child sex offenses, selling drugs to a child in a park, seriously injuring a peace officer during an escape or while resisting arrest, and escaping from a mental hospital.
But the new law also shifts four more crimes to county jails. They include possession of certain dangerous items, such as certain explosives, various knives, and exotic weapons like guns or swords hidden in walking canes, belt buckles, lipstick cases, wallets or writing pens. Check fraud and defrauding the state's food stamp program also now merit time in jail instead of prison.
Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, said the shift of the weapons possession crimes to counties is "very surprising and scary," and Sen. Doug La Malfa said he was "mystified about how this is going to help public safety in California."
Source: Daily Democrat