Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer credits his county's AB 109 Crime Impact Task Force for arresting more than 567 repeat offenders who had been released early under the California Public Safety Realignment Act (AB 109).
Passed in 2011, the act allows the incarceration and early release of “non-violent, non-serious, and non-sex offender” felons in county jails instead of state prison. Eligible crimes for local jails include burglary, forgery, corporal injury to a child, and aggravated evading a police officer.
AB 109 was passed in response to the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Plata. That ruling found that overcrowding in California's 33 state prisons violated inmates' 8th Amendment constitutional rights. Failure to provide adequate medical and mental health care was cruel and unusual punishment.
AB 109 Backfire
According to D.A. Spitzer, AB 109 “allowed people with very extensive criminal histories, instead of going to state prison and be supervised by parole, they got to do their time in a local county jail, and basically get early release.”
Since 2019, Orange County's AB 109 Crime Impact Task Force has arrested so-called A.B. 109ers for violent crimes as well as drugs and weapons violations.
AB 109 is Flawed, Spitzer Says
Spitzer pointed to the Durango Burglary Ring, whose five members were convicted of stealing almost $2 million in designer watches, purses, jewelry, and guns.
“These five criminals were all working together,” said Spitzer. “They were on parole for residential burglary already. They had a whole history… of theft-related offenses.”
Spitzer explained, “AB 109 is flawed because it does not look at someone's entire criminal past. This idea that the last offense is the only one that is used to analyze whether you should go to state prison or county jail is ridiculous,” he said.
Jail is Better Than Prison
In addition to relieving prison overcrowding, AB 109 is designed to reduce recidivism by making re-entry easier at the local level.
AB 109 placement in local correctional facilities instead of prison is not automatic. This is where an experienced criminal defense attorney can help. For a free consultation in the greater Los Angeles area, call the Sigal Law Group at 818-325-0570.
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