(Whatever the cause, your prayers are needed)
There are always two or more sides to a story. And in the case of AB 109, the 423-page measure called “Public Safety Realignment” signed into law October 1, 2011 by Governor Brown, there are those in the Governor’s camp with “success stories” illustrating how the law is working. And there are those who oppose Realignment, providing explicit “proof” it isn’t.
For example, after the law took effect, the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation (CJLF), together with a number of police chiefs and sheriffs throughout the state began to report on new crimes committed by those released from prison, left free and unsupervised by Realignment.
And then in January 2013, the FBI preliminary report for 2012 showed increases in crime in California after six straight years of decreases.
The CJLF also cites FBI statistics showing that, while rapes were down nationally, they increased by 6.4% in California. Property crimes also dropped nationally in 2012, but increased in California by 9.7%. Even more dramatic, auto thefts in the state showed a 15% increase, while the national rate increased by 1.3%.
On the flip side there are successes. Like the AB-109 Auto Shop in Red Bluff. Deputy Sheriff Rich Ryan, the program’s overseer, says the program is a success. AB-109 allows inmates to work on county vehicles, learning a valuable trade, while saving the county money. And not just on the work done, but the $78 a day it would cost if inmates were in jail through cost avoidance. Chief Probation Officer Richard Muench says the program also eases up the overcrowding.
And both Yolo and San Joaquin Counties say crime is down in those areas.
Since the implementation of AB 109, the state prison population has been reduced by 27,000 inmates—the largest reduction of state prison inmates in the nation’s history.
And to comply with a Federal Court Order, the state must again release an additional 9,000 inmates from state prisons.
But not all inmates affected by AB 109 are set “free” in our communities.
Now that the State has shifted the responsibility for criminals convicted of what are defined as “low level” crimes–which include felonies like assault, spousal abuse, commercial burglary, drug dealing, identity theft, and auto theft—back to the counties, the law requires counties to sentence them.
And sentencing may require some to fulfill their terms in already over-crowded county jails, or a combination of jail time and probation, home detention, a treatment program or a job training program like the one in Red Bluff.
These monumental changes in our state prisons, county jails and their impact on our local communities need to be faced head-on. The problems faced by inmates, by those in our criminal justice system and by those who work in our prisons and jails won’t solve themselves.
While there are numerous opinions on all sides of the Realignment issue on how to solve these pressing problems, ultimately, it’s the answers of our all-wise, infinitely intelligent God we need—which applies to every single issue we face. And He will share—actually, He is right now sharing—those answers as we humbly listen for His voice.
As God is ever-present, isn’t it logical then that His answers are ever-present, right here to be revealed?
No doubt we all have a stance on the issue of Realignment. As well thought out as our positions on this issue may be, let’s remember that God’s solutions blesses all—not just one group here or there. God’s answers don’t take human “sides”. Like sunshine, His answers, His blessings embrace everyone at once. Let’s pray, and hear God’s all-encompassing solutions—just at hand, as Jesus proved by opening the prison doors for the sick, the insane, the disillusioned and the hungry in heart.
Please share what God is sharing with you: