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Resolving The ‘Duty To Avenge’

I want to let everyone know that the overwhelming number of positive responses to my recent series on “Crime and No Punishment” appears to be showing some results.

I’ve called for the state of California and local governments to abandon the Pandemic-era failed experiment of emptying jails via “catch-and-release” policies that allow crooks and criminal misfits to avoid incarceration. It’s undeniable that some of these new laws and policies seriously undermine basic public safety.

Sheriff Matt Kendall issued a public statement supporting these moves: “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.”

One of the issues Kendall referred to was the fireworks over a human trafficking bill that occurred on Tuesday, July 11, when oh-so-politically-correct Democrats on the Assembly Public Safety Committee, deceptively 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. As Kendall pointed 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 that had already won unanimous approval in the state Senate.

Kendall also pointed out that, “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 whom 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.”

Recently in Laytonville, we experienced what Sheriff Kendall was concerned about with the vengeance factor when a crowd of 25 to 30 of 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 and restored order.

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 injured seriously. Most of those assembled at the school arrived there in response to information sent out on social media.

Needless to say, Sheriff’s detectives are actively continuing their investigation and gathering evidence.

A long-time Laytonville resident, C. Darr commented, “Thank you Jim, you have put in print what so many of us citizen’s have been desiring to express. I thought maybe it was only Laytonville experiencing this insane ‘let the criminals have their way crap.’ I was told, ‘You can’t arrest crazy people even when they trespass!’ And what happened to all the promises to help the mentally ill in our county. We are seeing more drug abuse and mental illnesses then ever before. And I have lived in Mendocino County for 60 years!!”

Heather McKenzie, of Mendocino County, asked, “Most California citizens are aware of the lack of punishment, if any, so what do we collectively do about it?”

For certain, people are starting to get involved and engaged with local government representatives in attempting to come up with solutions.

For example, this Thursday I received this notice from the Willits Chamber of Commerce:

This Is An Important Event — Please Attend

City Of Willits

Shoplifting Forum

Aug. 2, 2023 at 2 p.m.

Willits Community Center (City Hall)

City Manager, Brian Bender

Police Chief, Fabian Lizarraga

Discussion of the Shoplifting issues our Merchants have been experiencing.

* * *

Shoplifting is one of those crimes that is plaguing the entire state not just Mendocino County due to “catch and release” policies.

Obviously, it’s a good thing Willits folks are getting together with local government reps and the police to try and figure out how to solve what is clearly a state government-created problem.

So that’s all good news, let’s see where it all goes.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher,, 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 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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SCOTT WARD (Re Jim Shields’ ‘Crime & No Punishment’): 

The one party rule in the California legislature and in the governor’s office is responsible for the court’s inability to incarcerate criminals for a suitable length of time and hold them accountable for their actions. Elections have consequences.

* * *

Sheriff Matt Kendall: There is a new wrinkle in this chasm of change. The state prison system has been calculating credits in some strange fashion that when explained makes no sense.

Our judges hand down a sentence based on the facts. Then the folks at CDCR are somehow allowed to change the sentence thus circumventing the orders of our judges.

A gifted mathematician armed with a Texas Instruments calculator and the good old abacus wouldn’t know if he was on foot or horseback trying to follow the logic on these releases. It’s pure alchemy. The confusion is truly a portion of how this is happening and it’s time for it to stop.

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