Letters to the Editor

Andrea Seastrand is wrong: In California, crime is down

Juan Vega, middle, is escorted by agents into the Immigration and Customs Enforcement downtown staging facility in Los Angeles on April 18, 2017.
Juan Vega, middle, is escorted by agents into the Immigration and Customs Enforcement downtown staging facility in Los Angeles on April 18, 2017. TNS

Regarding: “In California, it’s been all about protecting criminals over victims,” by Andrea Seastrand:

As a career law enforcement official who retired as the director of state parole, it’s clear to me that recent reforms to California’s criminal justice system have helped bring some balance back to a system that for too long invested too much in reacting to crimes after they occurred and not enough addressing causative factors of crime: addiction, mental illness, homelessness, offender re-entry, etc. at the local level.

Despite Seastrand’s claims to the contrary, statewide property crime rates decreased by 3 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, and today, overall crime rates are lower than they were when Gov. Jerry Brown came into office in 2010.

But the fact is, local crime rates are driven much more by local conditions and responses than any statewide policy. Thanks to savings from reduced prison incarceration under Prop. 47, more than $100 million has been reallocated to communities across the state for prevention programs that address causative factors of crime. And thanks to Prop. 57, more prisoners will be returned home after completing rehabilitation and education programs proven to significantly reduce the chances a person will reoffend.

But make no mistake: There is no “automatic release” under Prop. 57, and no one is released unless a parole board finds the offender doesn’t pose a risk to safety. To date, 80 percent of all parole hearings have ended in denials. Criminal justice reform is working and we must stay the course.

Thomas G. Hoffman, Folsom

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