SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A law that could let thousands of convicted criminals out of prison early is up for a vote in November. Proposition 57 would increase parole opportunities for felons convicted of “non-violent” crimes and give them chances earn credits for good behavior during their sentence.
As we get closer to November, at least one police department is getting their message out about Prop. 57.
“People should tread lightly and very infrequently,” said Jay Wierenga.
He is with the California Fair Political Practices Commission. He says in general, publicly funded programs should do their best to stay away from politics opinions.
“The more factual and informational a statement is, the more likely it is all right,” said Wierenga.
The Sonora Police Department posted an arrest on Facebook. The suspect is charged with felony sexual assault of a person incapable of giving consent.
The post also included a side note, “if Proposition 57 passes, This type of crime will become a “non violent crime” resulting in lighter sentences.”
The Probation Officers of California disagree, “This assertion is completely inaccurate,” said Chief Marl Bonini, President, Chief Probation Officers of California in a statement, “Prop. 57 does not change the definition or sentence for any crimes.”
“People have a right to make up their own mind without being unduly influenced by public officials who may or may not be overstepping their bounds,” said Wierenga.
Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, along with dozens of other district attorneys across the state, are against the measure.
“It is one of the most dangerous initiatives that we’ve seen in the history of criminal justice,” said Schubert.
Schubert says she wouldn’t post her opinions on any proposition in a professional setting.
She does, however, say proposition 57 is poorly written, will make it possible for thousands of convicted criminals to be released early, and exposes a flaw in the penal code.
The code only defines what is a “violent” crime,
“All the other ones, if they’re not included, by default, they’re considered “non-violent,” said Schubert.
Offenses like sexual assault, domestic violence and assault with a deadly weapon may fall into those categories.
Yet supporters of the bill say dangerous offenders will be kept in prison. Tax payers will save millions. And non-violent offenders will have something to work towards.
“Incentivizing rehabilitation and educational milestones is a proven way to reduce recidivism and make our communities safer,” wrote Bonini.
We reached out to the Sonora Police Department to ask why they decided to include the side note in their Facebook post. We will update this story as soon as we hear back.