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Ron Kaye: There's no justice in this system

December 22, 2012

Consequences — there must be consequences for our actions, or there will be hell to pay. The punishment must fit the crime. Without that, at least as a shared principle, what do we have?

That's what justice for all is all about: the balance between freedom and discipline, between crime and punishment, between the individual and the collective rights and interests.

That, I think, is a proposition that is in some dispute today on many levels, not the least of which involves the governor and Legislature's enactment last year of Assembly Bill 109, a sweeping overhaul of the criminal justice system that was done without regard for the consequences, not even holding a public hearing where cops and prosecutors could have put their two cents in.

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It was panicked reaction to years of reckless spending, lack of accountability and a series of judicial condemnations of prisoner maltreatment and overcrowding. All they cared about was getting 20,000 felons out of state prisons and dumping them onto our streets or into our local jails, 40% of them in L.A. County.

Ask Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa and his command staff about AB 109 and how they are having to spend $1 million a year on the problem despite $8 million less in their budget and 18 fewer cops on the force. You'll learn a lot about consequences, the consequences to your safety as law-abiding citizens and the lack of consequences for career criminals as long as they fit in loosely defined and inconsistently applied definitions of the 3N's — nonserious, nonviolent, nonsexual felonies.

“When you dismantle the state penal system and throw it on the backs of local government saying we are better equipped to deal with it — that is a farce. It's not true. There are serious consequences,” De Pompa said in an interview last week. “They have overwhelmed the system. The result is public safety will be jeopardized for a long time to come. As law enforcement professionals across the county, we're seeing the anecdotal evidence of violent crime that we believe will change the public safety landscape for a very long time.”

The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming, and the tsunami of a crime wave is yet to come as the full impact of prison realignment is felt — unless you think the politicians know more about crime than cops and prosecutors.

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