California Crime, March 3, 2022

Capitol Weekly presented a look at Criminal Justice policy in the Golden State, Thursday, March 3, 2022. A mix of elected officials, law enforcement professionals, activists, academics and journalists discussed the complex issues of crime, punishment and rehabilitation.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta delivered the keynote.

This event was held on ZOOM from 9:00AM to 2:00PM, Thursday, March 3, 2022.

Podcasts of the individual panels and Keynote may be found here.

A digital program with an Agenda and bios for all speakers is posted here.

Panel 1: TRUE CRIME – The Statistics
California’s murder rate climbed 30% in 2020 and appears to have continued to rise in 2021. High profile Smash-and-Grab robberies made headlines; Some politicians blame Prop. 47 for creating a perception that these crimes have no consequences. Yet, property crime rates were at historic lows in 2020 – down 30% since 2000. Robberies decreased by 14% and rapes decreased by 8%. What are we to make of these statistics, and how do they compare to national trends? Did Prop. 47 cause a crime wave? What are the real numbers for California Crime?

Featuring: Magnus Lofstrom, Public Policy Institute of California; Alyson Lunetta, California Department of Justice Statistical Center; Jennifer Noble, CSU Sacramento; Gregory D. Totten, California District Attorneys Association
Moderated by Sigrid Bathen, Capitol Weekly

Panel 2: SOLUTIONS – A New Approach?
Decades of tough-on-crime legislation saw California’s state prison population grow from 20,000 prior to 1980 to a peak of 175,000 in 2006. Reforms, including a 2011 court-mandated reduction of the prison population, have lowered the number of people in California prisons, and the state will close two prisons in 2021-2022. But, how many prisoners now languish in underfunded city and county jails? Prison closures coincide with a new crop of Progressive officials and treatment advocates who are approaching punishment, incarceration and rehabilitation differently; Cities including Oakland and Sacramento have created programs to add social workers to the police response to some 911 calls. Are efforts like these improving the rehabilitation of those being arrested and making California safer for everyone?

Featuring: Captain Brian Bixler, Los Angeles Police Department; Hillary Blout, For the People; Tinisch Hollins, Californians for Safety and Justice; Michael Romano, California Committee on the Revision of the Penal Code
Moderated by Byrhonda Lyons, Calmatters

KEYNOTE: Attorney General Rob Bonta
Introduction by John Howard, Capitol Weekly

Panel 3: THE POLITICS – From ‘Three Strikes’ to ‘Defund the Police’
California’s reliably blue voter base sends majorities of Democrats to the Legislature and zero Republicans to statewide office, while often rejecting criminal justice reforms at the same time. An effort to end the Death Penalty, proposition 62, was rejected by voters in 2016. Senate Bill 10, which eliminated cash bail, was passed by the legislature and signed into law in 2018; Two years later voters repealed the bill in a referendum. In 2014, Proposition 14, which loosened sentencing guidelines, passed with nearly 60% of the vote; Now, with crime a rising concern, many, including some Democrats, want it scrapped. Two Progressive prosecutors, LA County District Attorney George Gascón and San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, have been targeted with Recall efforts. What does this ‘tough on crime’ attitude say about California’s otherwise liberal voters? Does the issue of crime offer a path forward for California’s embattled Republican Party?

Featuring: Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham; Anne Irwin, Smart Justice California; Rob Stutzman, Stutzman Public Affairs; Bill Wong, California Assembly Democrats
Moderated by Erika Smith, Los Angeles Times


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