Santa Clarita’s legislative panel says “no” to the release of more prisoners

Santa Clarita City Hall

The Santa Clarita City Council will stand up and be heard on the controversial issue of Proposition 57.

Meeting on Tuesday, the council’s two-member Legislative Committee embraced a recommendation that the full council oppose Prop 57 – the state-wide ballot measure that would hasten the release of some non-violent offenders from prisons, as part of a federal-court-ordered means of addressing overcrowding.

The Legislative Committee, consisting of Mayor Bob Kellar and Councilman TimBen Boydston, will now send the matter to the full council, which is expected to vote on the issue at its next meeting, on Oct. 25, the body’s last gathering before Election Day.

The council’s vote would carry only the weight of a recommendation to voters, who will address the issue at the polls on Nov. 8.

Prop 57 is one of 17 state-wide ballots measures. There are also two county measures on the Nov. 8 ballots.

“We wholeheartedly took the position of opposition,” said Kellar, citing his view that, “Similar actions in the past, such as Prop 47, have resulted in increasing crime everywhere, including our own city.”

Prop 47 was a 2014 measure that reduced some non-violent felonies – primarily property crimes – to misdemeanors.

Kellar said Prop 57 would also “compromise the courts’ decisions.”

“But the main issue is, we are putting at risk our good citizens with this proposition moving forth,” he said.

Prop 57 is officially called the “California Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative.’’ If passed, it would increase parole and good-behavior opportunities for those convicted of non-violent crimes – and make an estimated 7,000 prisoners state-wide immediately eligible for release.

It would also enable judges, rather than prosecutors, to determine if young accused offenders would be tried as juveniles or adults.


The measure has about as many prominent foes as it does supporters — and they are not always split along party lines.

For instance, the California Democratic Party supports the measure while the state Republican Party opposes it. But in the race for the 21st Senate race, both Republican Scott Wilk and Democrat Johnathon Ervin oppose passage.

Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom are among the measure’s prominent supporters.

Critics, such as George Hofstetter, president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, and Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, say the measure is poorly crafted and contains loopholes that will allow some violent offenders to go free.

In a blog post titled “The Reality of Prop 57,” Hanisee called the measure “dangerous,” adding it, “provides for earlier release of ALL inmates not serving a death sentence or life without parole sentence.’’

Boydston, in an interview with The Signal on Monday, said Prop 57 would erode the effectiveness of the state’s “Three Strikes” law — which, he said, “drove crime to one of the lowest rates in modern history on a per capita basis.”

“I am inclined to err on the side of caution when it comes to making this adjustment to our law,” he said.

Both Boydston and Kellar are running for re-election on Nov. 8.


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