Republicans propose realignment reforms |

Republicans propose realignment reforms

The Union staff

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Senate and Assembly Republicans have unveiled a package of reforms that they say will fix flaws in Gov. Jerry Brown's public safety realignment law.

"The anticipated dire consequences of realignment – from the potential escalation in lower-level crimes like home burglaries to the early release of dangerous felons from overcrowded county jails – are sadly a reality," Senator Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, who was former chairman of the Board of Prison Terms and represents western Nevada County, said in a news release.

"Criminals now face diminished to no consequences for their continued victimization of innocent citizens. Convicted felons must know that there are consequences for continuing to victimize. The absence of consequences does not promote rehabilitation."

GOP lawmakers said early figures and reports from individual jurisdictions show that Californians are less safe today because of the Governor's public safety realignment law.

According to figures from the FBI, crime rates in California climbed between January to June 2011 and January to June 2012, just as the realignment law was starting to be implemented. Murder and rape crimes each increased nearly 8 percent, the release states, while burglary and motor vehicle theft each increased more than 10 percent.

Republicans said their measures were narrowly crafted and focused on solving the problems that have been experienced by communities under the governor's public safety realignment law since it was first implemented in October 2011.

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Republicans have authored proposals to: Help law enforcement keep closer tabs on dangerous offenders out on the streets; increase penalties against criminals who shouldn't have guns; provide funding fairness for local governments; and ensure that sex offenders, dangerous criminals and repeat felons serve their time in state prison.

Brown acknowledged last week that there were flaws with the public safety realignment plan. Democrats in the Legislature have also voiced their concerns with realignment and are calling for reform.

Republican lawmakers said that they had already attracted Democrat support for some of their reform ideas, and hope to work with them to attract bipartisan support to pass the changes necessary to protect our communities.

Republicans said that advocates for public safety and crime victims were strongly supporting their realignment reform package, calling them necessary steps to ensure justice is served for victims and their families.

"If it weren't for realignment, my daughter would be living her life normally right now. If it's the last thing I do, to my last breath I will work to see that realignment is changed," said Diana Muñoz, mother of Brandy Arreola.

According to the news release, Arreola was the victim of a domestic violence attack in 2012 by a boyfriend who had been reportedly released early due to overcrowding in the local jail.

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