Last week, I said the state of California needs to abandon the Pandemic-era failed experiment with emptying its jails via “catch-and-release” policies that allow crooks and criminal misfits to avoid incarceration. Some of these new laws and policies seriously undermine basic public safety. … The only answer is for county officials, mainly the judges, to abandon the policy of emptying the county jail. To hell with the state Legislature and their idiotic laws that give free rein to criminals to carry out even more crimes and anti-social behavior at the expense of public safety.
Anyway, I received a number of very thoughtful responses from folks, including our Sheriff. Here’s what three of the responders had to say.
“Jim, you have taken the words right out of my mouth with what you said about people who do crimes but don’t get punished. As a small business owner and also a single mother who is raising a daughter age 4, my heart goes out to that woman who was treated so shabbily by the Ukiah Police Department after she was victimized by shoplifters and also assaulted. How can the police call that “mutual combat”? Something is terribly wrong and backwards in our society if the bad guys are allowed to roam free after committing actual crimes, or what used to be actual punishable crimes. As a business woman who provides a service but not goods or items, I count myself lucky that I don’t have to worry about shoplifters but what kind of message is being sent to the public that our government leaders don’t put much priority on protecting us from criminals.”— Valerie Thompson
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“I read or heard recently that the supervisors spent several hundred thousand dollars on new security upgrades and bullet proof glass to protect themselves from the public at their meetings. How much are they spending to protect the public from people who are caught breaking the law and then turned loose without being held in jail for at least a few days? Something wrong with that picture. What a crock.”— Lance
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I recently read a column by Jim Shields titled "Crime and no punishment." I found the article pretty much hit the nail on the head. I believe we are currently in a moment when the pendulum has swung too far. Over the past dozen years, we have seen legislation which removes personal responsibility from people, it’s just that simple. If there is no personal responsibility, then who does the responsibility for behaviors fall to?
Laws protect the safety of society and ensure our rights as residents against abuses by other people, by organizations, and by the government itself. Our laws help us to create safer communities. One of the things our laws also do for us is remove the duty to avenge. This duty has been well documented throughout time. Trust me, I have arrived at many a tense situation where one subject was wronged or endangered by another. In many cases all involved parties were happy to see law enforcement arrive before things went too far. I am extremely concerned when the teeth are removed from our laws, and faith on our courts are gone, our residents will grow their teeth back and we will see duty to avenge played out across our nation. We can’t have that.
Many of our elected officials made several campaign promises to close prisons, these promises are coming true. Not because we have less crime and fewer victims, however due to changes in legislation which decriminalized many behaviors. If we want to close prisons let’s start by creating education and opportunities that reduce crimes, not simply ignore them.
I have heard many people say drugs are a victimless crime. To the contrary, there are victims constantly and many of the victims are the people addicted. This is turning into slow and agonizing homicide for many. Addictions are killing people in numbers that completely out of control, if people are dying from this how are they not victims? Many of these addicted individuals have children, of whom many will suffer abuse and neglect. These addictions also cause people to start dealing or committing crimes to feed their addiction. Armed robberies, burglaries and assaults are often the spoils of addictions.
This shift in policy and laws aren’t simply dealing with drug offenses. This week we saw Senate Bill 14 come before the public safety committee. This bill would have classified human trafficking of a minor child into the realm of a serious felony. This would have made trafficking a minor a strikeable offense and allowed sentencing enhancements for those convicted of this crime in the same fashion arsonist and bank robbers receive sentencing enhancements for their crimes. This would also keep repeat offenders incarcerated and make them ineligible for early releases. California lawmakers in the Assembly Public Safety Committee blocked the measure. The public safety committee is well known for blocking measures that would increase prison time. On Thursday the public outcry was so intense, the public safety committee in emergency hearing reversed their decision and allowed this bill to pass. News reports described this as "a sudden and spectacular reversal".
Many people have forgotten when a criminal is in prison, he isn’t victimizing a neighborhood and therefore it prevents crime. There are people who belong in prison. Some crimes are so heinous it isn’t safe for our communities or the suspects to remain on the street. I understand this may not be a popular statement however this has been my experience and we are in a time when the truth isn’t particularly popular.
Now to the point, and why I am bringing this up in Mendocino County. I truly believe many of our residents are busy working hard, raising a family and putting supper on the table. We are often too busy to involve ourselves in pouring over legislation and how it will impact our communities. Let’s try to find some time to ask the hard questions of our state representatives and elected officials. These are good people, I often think they simply aren’t hearing from all of us. If we can all educate ourselves and come together with a reasonable voice, I am certain we can move beyond these issues. The recent reversal on SB-14 is evidence voices are heard we simply need to speak.— Sheriff Matt Kendall
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The fireworks over the human trafficking bill referenced by Kendall was set off Tuesday, July 11, when oh-so-politically-correct Democrats on the Assembly Public Safety Committee, argued that the proposed law would contribute to over-incarceration, would needlessly extend already-significant prison sentences, and would punish those at the lowest rungs of trafficking who may be victims of human trafficking themselves (Huh?).
As Kendall points out, by Thursday, July 13, the public outcry was so immediate and overwhelming that the Dems were forced to reconvene the Assembly into session, where they re-voted to approve the measure which had already won unanimous approval in the state Senate.
State Sen. Shannon Grove, of Bakersfield, a Republican, announced that the bill picked up 18 new co-authors — nearly all of them Democrats — following the Assembly’s re-vote.
One of the Assembly Democrats who changed her vote was Liz Ortega, of Hayward, who said she “made a bad decision” on Tuesday by voting “no,” but made the right decision by voting “yes” on Thursday.
“Voting against legislation targeting really bad people who traffic children was wrong,” Ortega explained in a tweet.
Good for Ortega, I say. And good for the people who made it happen, you could say making it necessary, for Ortega — and others like her — to correct a wrong vote.
Laytonville Man Arrested On Kidnapping, Rape Charges Involving Minor
A large crowd (25-30 people) of Laytonville residents were responsible for capturing and holding a man believed to have sexually assaulted a young girl until law enforcement officers arrived on the scene this past Saturday night, July 8th.
While the accused man was roughed up a bit by a few people in the crowd at the Laytonville Elementary School, he didn’t appear to be seriously injured. Most of those assembled at the school arrived there in response to information sent out on social media.
According the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Trevor Wilson, 19, of Laytonville, was arrested and booked into the County Jail on charges of kidnapping for robbery and rape, contact with intent to commit lewd act with a minor, and lewd/lascivious acts with child under 14 with force. Bail was set $250,000.
Sheriff’s detectives are actively continuing their investigation and gathering evidence. It’s known that detectives have reviewed security camera footage at locations other than the elementary school where the incident ended shortly after 11 p.m. with Wilson’s arrest.
There are additional details regarding this incident that we are not publishing at this time due to the ongoing investigation.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)