Betty Arenson | The City of Santa Clarita’s Safety Record

SCV Voices: Guest Commentary
SCV Voices: Guest Commentary

The April 18 Signal printed responses to the topic of the city of Santa Clarita being ranked the ninth-safest city in California. The vast majority of the dozen responses were negative. One man said that while he lived in the San Fernando Valley, he had no car break-ins but has had three since living in the SCV, including broken windows twice. The writer gave no time frames of residency in either place or specific locations. Other writers allege the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department “suppressed” crime stats and we need more sheriff’s stations.

There was a time when Santa Clarita was the sixth-safest place to live. Knowing that, it may well be incorrect to blame the city for any part of that decline. Here’s why.

In late August 2018 The Signal published a commentary I wrote titled “California’s Watered-Down Crime Laws.” The subject was discussing Propositions 47 and 57, both hailed as positive accomplishments by former Gov. Jerry Brown. 

Props 47 and 57 (the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016), in my opinion, are felon-friendly and jeopardize the safety of Joe and Jane Citizen. These propositions turned felons back out to the streets and lowered former violent crimes to “nonviolent. 

The following is taken from that revealing report/commentary:

“Prop 57 ‘increased’ opportunities for felons convicted of ‘non-violent’ crimes and allows them to ‘earn credits for good behavior.’ Additionally, judges, not prosecutors, will decide if some juveniles are tried as adults. Gov. Brown also signed a statement specifying the same early release applies to registered sex offenders.  

The L.A. Association of Deputy District Attorneys site gives Proposition 57’s “Direct Results.” 

The same release conditions apply to offenders who have committed multiple crimes against multiple victims as one with a single crime against one victim. Repeat offenders’ eligibility matches that of first-time offenders. Offenders with enhanced sentences due to egregious conduct are as eligible as the non-egregious criminal. 

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has unlimited authority to award credits to all inmates, in excess of current conduct credit limitations of 15-50 percent. 

Juveniles committing violent crimes of murder, rape and carjacking cannot be filed on as adults. The filings will be in juvenile court where only a judge can deem them unfit. 

The Legislative Analyst Office notes there is no definition of “non-violent” felonies cited in the California Penal Code or in Proposition 57. The precedence is “any offense that is not among the 23 designated as ‘violent’ in Section 667.5(c) of the state penal code is regarded as ‘nonviolent.’”

Presently, some non-violent crimes:

• Assault with a deadly weapon.

• Solicitation to commit murder.

• Domestic violence.

• Arson of forest land causing physical injury.

• Exploding destructive device with intent to cause injury.

• First degree burglary.  

• Battery with serious bodily injury.

• Rape/sodomy/oral copulation of an unconscious person.

• Rape/sodomy/oral copulation of an intoxicated person.

• First degree burglary when no one is present.

• Inflicting corporal injury on a child.

• Human trafficking involving a minor.

• Assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.

• Active participation in a street gang.

 Source: The L.A. Association of Deputy District Attorneys

I was unable to clarify the classification of such crimes as discharging a firearm on school grounds; drive-by shooting; false imprisonment of an elder through violence; criminal    threats; hate crime causing physical injury; failing to register as a sex offender; supplying a firearm to a gang member; attempted robbery/kidnapping/carjacking and stalking.

To summarize a bit, crimes no longer aggregate or stack —each crime is separate. For the man with the three-time car vandalism, if they were done by the same individual and if each instance was damage of less than $900, the crimes are not cumulative but separate and the bad guy is a mere menace not a real criminal. 

When California’s laws dictate that many crimes aren’t really crimes and soften valid crimes that may exist, it would follow that law enforcement is rendered impotent and courts are a forum for jesters and not any serious accountability.

I personally am reluctant to blame local law enforcement for any calculable rise in crime without knowing the details.

Betty Arenson is a Santa Clarita resident. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among several local Republicans.

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