Sacramento Continues Risky Experiments with Public Safety

Authors: Andrew Do, Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney/Public Administrator of Orange County

Dr. Frankenstein has nothing on Sacramento.

During this year’s legislative session, state lawmakers once again conducted risky experiments with our criminal justice system. As with so many public safety experiments in the past decade, Sacramento has put feel-good political correctness above the safety of our community.

Sacramento’s most damaging creation, Senate Bill 10, ends bail in California. Instead of cash bail, criminal courts will conduct “risk assessments” to determine whether an offender should be held until trial or released back into the community. This experimental bail system jeopard-izes the safety of our neighborhoods, making it even easier for criminals to evade justice.

How will this new process work? Would every arraignment become a trial where experts have to testify and who would pay for it? Why would anyone appear in court if there is no cash bail?

No one knows—not even supporters.

Proponents say that most nonviolent misdemeanor offenders will be back on the street within 12 hours. The rest? Their fate will be determined by a computer algorithm created by each court.

Experimental algorithms work great for picking movies and buying shoes—now, after years of fine tuning and collecting vast amounts of highly-personalized data on their customers. Even then, the algorithms get it wrong. Of course, the ramifications of a bad movie or an ugly pair of shoes aren’t quite the same as putting a suspected burglar or rapist back into our community.

Contained in a vacuum, California might be able to withstand the criminal onslaught during the experimental fine-tuning stage of this new bail algorithm. But, this isn’t the only ongoing public safety experiment in California. Under Assembly Bill 1810, convicted criminals with any type of mental disorder can wipe the slate clean after completing a two-year diversion program.

Residents of Garden Grove recently witnessed a brazen snatch-and-grab job at a Garden Grove cell phone store—in broad daylight. Criminals are thumbing their noses as they think they can get away with crimes like petty theft here in California, thanks to state politicians.

Law-abiding citizens must speak up and make our voices heard. Thankfully, in California we are able to have a direct check on this out of control behavior through the initiative and referen-dum process.

For starters, support the Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act. Scheduled to be on the November 2020 ballot, the initiative will reign in some of the damage done by Prop. 47, Prop 57 and AB 109. This common-sense proposal will reclassify current “non-violent” crimes like rape of an unconscious person, trafficking of a child for sex, assault of a peace officer, felo-ny domestic violence and other similar charges as violent, making perpetrators ineligible for early release after committing these heinous acts. Other components of the initiative will fix problems with DNA collection, serial theft, parole violations and other issues caused by Sacra-mento’s ill-conceived attack on our criminal justice system.

Secondly, sign the referendum to put SB 10 to a vote of the people. A coalition of those wary of SB 10 have already filed the referendum that has been cleared for circulation. If it gets the necessary 366,000 signatures, the new law will be placed on hold until voters have a chance to decide in November 2020.

California is already suffering from three Frankenstein’s monsters: Prop. 47, Prop. 57, and AB 109. We don’t need more experiments that jeopardize the safety of our neighborhoods.

Andrew Do, a former prosecutor, serves as chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervi-sors.

Tony Rackauckas is Orange County District Attorney/Public Administrator.