The Los Angeles Times' Paige St. John reported Thursday that the increase in fugitive sex offenders in California, since the state changed key prison policies, is more than double that was previously believed. Citing data released by corrections officials, St. John reported a 65 percent rise from October 2011 to Jan. 1 in warrants issued for paroled sex offenders who were tracked by GPS units and went missing.
As shocking as that statistic may be, no one should be surprised. As we have been lamenting for the past 1½ years, California's controversial experiment in transferring supervision of prisoners from the state to local agencies is a clear and present danger to public safety.
Want more evidence? Ask Fontana Police Chief Rod Jones. He witnessed two cases in a one-week period of violent crimes committed in his community by hardened criminals who were transferred from state prison to county jail only to be set free because of insufficient bed space to house the inmates.
The Press-Enterprise reported Fontana Police and a CHP officer responding to a report of a man beating a woman at a Fontana park-and-ride facility on April 7. The man, identified as David Mulder, was shot and later pronounced dead at a hospital, while the woman died of multiple stab wounds.
Mulder had recently been released from state prison as a Post Release Community Supervision offender as a part of AB109, the Public Safety Realignment Act. He had prior convictions for narcotics-related charges and was released from prison in September 2012. Mulder failed to comply with his PRCS terms and, on March 25, was sentenced to 30 days incarceration. He was released from jail eight days later on April 2 and placed on an electronic GPS monitoring system by the San Bernardino County Probation Department due to being homeless.
"This is yet another glowing example of the failure of California's prison realignment," Chief Jones said. "Dangerous prisoners that belong in state prison continue to be released early, time and time again, to return to our communities and endanger our families and friends. Had Mulder remained incarcerated, on either recent occasion, for his full sentence, this woman would still be alive and this entire incident would not have occurred."
Just a week earlier, the Los Angeles Times reported that another felon released under the realignment program allegedly raped a woman in a Fontana motel room. Juan Francisco Aguilera had previous convictions for grand theft auto, drug possession, receiving stolen property and robbery.
You can learn more about realignment by visiting Keep California Safe, which provides factual information about the law and links to stories about failures of the law. This law was meant to ease overcrowding in California's prisons, but is instead causing huge problems at jails on the local level.
Prison realignment was a deeply-flawed concept from the outset. It clearly isn't working as intended and must be fixed. The only question is how many more citizens will be victims of violent crimes in the meantime.
Editor's Note: This blog post first appeared on the Los Angeles Police Protective League's website.