At 10:20 a.m. Aug. 6, 40-year-old Canyon Country resident Justin Davis was released from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station after being arrested hours earlier on suspicion of selling narcotics.
Davis’ 3 a.m. arrest that same morning was the fifth time he had been arrested by the Sheriff’s Department since March 1, 2020.
After getting out, Davis allegedly made his way to the Stevenson Ranch area around 4 p.m., walked up to a truck sitting at a car wash on The Old Road and stole it, according to sheriff’s station officials.
He was ultimately arrested once again, making it his second arrest that day — the arrest logs show the two bookings happening a little over 12 hours apart, and his sixth arrest since March 17 of last year.
Davis’s name is one of hundreds of names on a growing list of the Sheriff Station’s “repeat offenders” — people who have been arrested two or more times — which doesn’t count data from other nearby law enforcement agencies, such as the Los Angeles Police Department.
Enforcement officials said this week that repeat offenders being arrested multiple times in the last few months, or even multiple times in the same day, is becoming more and more common.
In fact, according to the local crime statistics, between in the last 16.5 months — between March 17, 2020, and July 31, 2021 — there were 880 repeaters arrested who made up 7,608 of the arrests made by the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. During that same time frame, there have been five individuals who have been arrested 15 or more times, with two individuals each being arrested in the SCV 21 times.
“It is widely known among law enforcement and the criminal element, or our suspects, that we arrest and that they will be cited out,” said SCV Sheriff’s Station Capt. Justin Diez.
Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda earlier this month placed the fault for this small group of suspects contributing to many of local arrests at the feet of L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón.
“This recent spike in the number of repeat offenders and crimes they have committed proves, once again, that the DA’s directives are detrimental to public safety and well-being in the city of Santa Clarita,” Miranda said. “Gascón’s directives continue to perpetuate crime with offenders being arrested multiple times, with no repercussions, justice or rehabilitation.”
Miranda was making reference to Gascón’s implementation of a number of special directives last December, which include ending the pursuit of the death penalty, sentencing enhancements and cash bail for many offenses. These new policies, coupled with the county’s COVID-19 emergency bail schedule that was established in order to keep prison/jail populations low, has led to offenders being allowed to commit crime without fear of incarceration, Gascón’s critics have argued.
The new Gascón policies were in addition to a statewide COVID-19 emergency bail schedule that set bail at $0 for most people accused — but not yet tried — of misdemeanors and lower-level felonies, and while his supporters have said these special directives are part of his larger reform of the criminal justice system, local critics of the D.A. have said that his policies are a threat to public safety, as evidenced by the repeat-offender list.
“This emboldens criminals and we see that in the numbers, which speak for themselves, not just in Santa Clarita, but across Los Angeles County,” said Miranda.
However, Gascón’s campaign manager Jamarah Hayner defended the D.A.’s policies, saying that the attacks against them are an attempt by those hoping to recall Gascón to politicize crime data and “spread misinformation.”
“Everyone’s top priority — including D.A. Gascón’s — is community safety, which is why policies aimed at interrupting the revolving-door cycle of mass incarceration are so important,” Hayner told The Signal earlier this month. “It’s just as important to give people a full, honest picture of crime statistics, taking into the dates and categories of any specific arrests.”
When his policies have been commended for their efforts but chastised for their results, Gascón’s supporters have said that the short-term numbers do not give a full picture of the success of the reforms thus far or the success they will have in the future.
“Justice reform and keeping our communities safe isn’t a goal with an end point. It’s continuous — every day, every week, every year,” said Hayner. “I truly believe folks on both sides of this conversation — especially the public servants who’ve dedicated their careers to precisely that calling — all care deeply about that shared value.”
SCV Sheriff’s Station
Whether the reforms are working or not in the macro, SCV Sheriff’s Station officials said they’ll continue to worry about the micro and implementing the processes that have been put before them.
“We are under the L.A. County Emergency Bail Schedule, meaning that it’s basically zero bail for misdemeanors and felonies, with exceptions,” said Diez. “Those exceptions include approximately 20 or so misdemeanors and 30 or so felonies.”
Diez went on to explain that under the previous bail system, people alleged to have committed crimes could be “incapacitated,” a criminology theory that “argues that a small percentage of offenders commits a large percentage of crimes, so crime could be significantly reduced by identifying and imprisoning such offenders,” according to a study done by the National Institute of Justice.
However, with “zero bail,” deputies bring in suspects in for a number of misdemeanors and felonies, fingerprint them and release them within four to five hours with a citation and future court date.
But the problem has become increasingly worse regarding these suspects who have been arrested two or more times by local deputies, according to Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station statistics.
Under the pretrial release system — unless they’ve committed a crime that falls under one of the few dozen exceptions — Diez says they’ve seen people come and go from the station on a regular basis.
“Those repeat offenders have been arrested for everything (from) vehicle (theft), to drugs, to regular theft to domestic violence to various assaults … I mean they’ve been arrested for all kinds of stuff,” said Diez, later adding: “We’ve had a number of them be cited out and then go and commit another crime.”