The Governor's Office called to complain about a story that we ran on AB109. They did not like the story and sent a statement that they wanted us to correct the story. We posted that letter on our website.
Since then Central Coast News has received several emails in support of our story, including the following response from the Victims Action League.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
This is the first story we've seen on the TV news about this dangerous
law and it's foreseeable impact on local communities. We are a San
Diego based victims rights group and hope that other news groups will
follow your lead.
Please visit our website at www.victimsaction.org to see some of the
correspondence that has previously been sent regarding AB109. These
might help you answer some of the Governor's criticisms to your piece.
I would be happy to help you "substantiate" your story in any way that
I can. Please let me know if there's anything I can do. Another note,
while the Governor's office carefully collected "support in concept"
letters from various unions and agencies, many of these same agencies
did not have the opportunity to review the revised plan before it was
rushed through the legislature.
Additionally, crime victims groups and the general public were never
considered "stakeholders" in this process.
Thank you again.
The Victims Action League also included their own rebuttal to Governors response, their comments are in red.
The Governors office responded with this letter:
My top concern is that the reporter did not reach out to our office, the department of finance, or corrections for clarification on the proposal. When reporters are going to spend on-air time covering an administration plan, we want and deserve the opportunity to weigh in.
Crime Victim Advocates and the General Public deserved the right to weigh in BEFORE this bill was passed.
Here are some of the issues and inaccuracies:
"Critics say AB109 is dangerous and will mean more crime in California neighborhoods."
This is not balanced with what supporters – which include the California Police Chiefs Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California, California Peace Officers' Association, California State Sheriffs' Association, Chief Probation Officers of California, Association for Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs and Los Angeles County Deputy Probation Officers Union and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca – say. They maintain the opposite.
They've only noted one actual individual person here, the rest are unions who's primary interest is to protect the various interests of their membership base. Public Safety may take a back seat to fiscal issues.
"The bill is 652 pages long, and before the vote many lawmakers were accused of not reading the details."
This is not substantiated. Which lawmakers, accused by who?
Victims Action League and Crime Victims Action Alliance has made that accusation. We also have issues with the fact that the bill was passed with disregard for the legislatures own rules. This bill not only did not go through the Public Safety committee, but it was passed using the budget trailer bill loopholes.
"‘This is not generated for public safety. It's generated for budgetary reasons because the state is broke.'"
Flippos' opinion is not balanced by any counterpoint. Many studies indicate that housing low-level offenders at the local level reduces recidivism, which ultimately reduces costs and lowers crime rates. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/04/27/ED2N1J83TN.DTL.
That's the reason that so many law enforcement organizations back the plan.
Again, this was passed as a "budget trailer bill", bypassing the route a Public Safety bill is required to take. We would have liked to see the public to have the chance to participate in any debates on opinions and counterpoints. The governor himself has described this measure as "cost-saving". We have questioned the methods used to calculate cost savings and have reminded the Governor about the cost to victims and communities.
" ‘I don't think the Chief Probation Officer will tell you he can handle it.'"
Flippo's opinion is inaccurate. Linda Penner, who represents all of the Probation Chiefs in California, voiced their support here: http://gov.ca.gov/video.php?id=10
11 min, 45 seconds into the video. The head of the police chief, sheriff and DA's associations are also supportive of realignment on behalf of their organizations – see video.
We are having virtually no success here in San Diego in getting answers from local public safety agencies on how this is going to impact San Diegans, and what their plans are for implementation. The most recent budget Plan for San Diego County doesn't show any planned increase in the number of probation officers.
"Two parole agents came forward to Central Coast News to voice their worries from an insiders' perspective."
This is not balanced with the support given to the proposal by the Chief Probation Officers of California. Probation officers are at the local level – they supervise people who come out of local jails. Parole agents are state employees. This fact alone should have alerted the reporter that she has a responsibility to contact the administration for a perspective.
CDCR has already begun the dismantling process for the Board of Prison Hearings. Many of the Deputy Commissioners are awaiting their official lay-off notices. Since there's been a severe lack of communication from the Governor's office about implementation, we are forced to make assumptions. It's easy for the Parole Agents to assume that trimming down the number of Parole Agents will be another aspect of "cost-saving".
" ‘Where are we going to put extra people? Especially ones who should be in state prison in the first place?' asked Flippo. It's why he believes that AB109 will mean early release of a lot of criminals. ‘You have to move out to make space for others. There's going to be an increase in crime.'"
This is inaccurate. There is *nothing* about early release in realignment. It actually provides money to local jails so that they can staff additional beds – which will allow more people to be incarcerated. There is also no evidence to substantiate that claim that ‘There's going to be an increase in crime.' The opposite is true. Evidence suggests that housing low level offenders at the local level, where they can get support reintegrating into the community, will result in a drop in crime.
On the contrary, there IS language about early release in this bill. here's just one example excerpted from aroundthecapitol.com:
I would be interested to know how many of the above entities are still on board with this plan. I think it would also be important to learn how many members of these entities disagree with their own organizations official stance.
Further, we want the opportunity to weigh in on all coverage of this issue going forward. That's fair and good journalism. I'll give Tracy a call in a few minutes. Could you please share this with her.
These videos may help provide some of the requested substantiation: