Scott Wilk | California to Criminals: Do the Crime, Not the Time

Scott Wilk

If you want more evidence that the California Dream is becoming a nightmare, just take a look at the latest census data. From 2020 to 2022, the Golden State’s population plummeted by more than 500,000 people.  

Even my daughter joined the exodus, packing it up and moving her family to Alaska. 

It’s a heartbreaking situation for far too many families. Grandparents and adult kids alike are moving to more affordable, safer communities. 

Incredibly nice weather just doesn’t measure up when balanced against California’s challenges and a liberal Legislature that doesn’t seem to see a problem until it hits them in the face.   

Adding insult to injury, California’s Legislature doubles down on flat-out dangerous policies that threaten the safety of our communities and leave trails of new victims in their wake.  

Here’s a not-so-fun fact: California law doesn’t consider domestic violence, rape of an unconscious person, and human trafficking to be violent felonies.  

One doesn’t have to be a policy expert to understand the very real consequences of laws that prioritize criminals’ comfort over neighborhood safety. 

Turn on the local news any given night and see the latest smash-and-grab or catalytic converter theft that happened in your community. 

I’m sure you’ve seen stories, too, of offenders let out on zero bail only to offend again as soon as they’re released. 

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, two people released under L.A. County’s zero-bail system were arrested five times over 15 months. During that same period, they counted 649 zero-bail rearrests. 

Democrats tried to take that local policy statewide last year. Thankfully, it failed. 

The most heartbreaking stories are the ones where innocent people become victims of dangerous repeat offenders with long histories of violent felonies who were let out of prison early. 

Sadly, just last month we saw the latest example of the criminals-first agenda in action. 

In Fresno County, Selma police officer and father-to-be Gonzalo Carrasco Jr. was shot and killed, allegedly by a convicted felon with a history of robbery, firearms possession and drug offenses. 

In October 2022 we learned about convicted rapist Michael Xavier Bell. A judge once said Bell should “never be released from prison,” yet he was released early from his decades-long sentence and killed a 60-year-old man just 73 days later. 

In April 2022 career criminal Smiley Martin participated in a Sacramento shooting that left six dead just two months after his early release. 

In June 2021 Kate Tibbitts was brutally raped and murdered in her own home by a parolee released from custody just three months earlier. He also killed her dogs and set her house on fire. 

Why are these dangerous monsters being released?  

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Ralph Diaz said of Smiley Martin, “I can’t calculate how he got out in the time that he did.” 

The process for deciding who is released early from prison, and why, should be transparent. There should be no mystery around the decision, and to have zero understanding of their own process is an insult to the victims and their families. 

Regardless of your political beliefs, I think most people would agree the status quo is ridiculous. 

That’s why I am coauthoring Senate Bill 288, to bring much-needed accountability and transparency to the early release process. 

Under the bill, the prison system would be required to make public the calculations and other data used to determine a prison inmate’s early release. 

It’s just one prong of California Senate Republicans’ plan to fix California and improve public safety. We also have legislation to combat serial theft, the deadly fentanyl crisis and human trafficking. 

One hundred years ago, people were drawn to California by enchanting postcards with images of orange groves and swaying palm trees. Sadly, today’s postcard would likely feature scenes of robbery, homicide and fentanyl. 

“Greetings from California, a criminal’s paradise!”

Sen. Scott Wilk represents the 21st Senate District, which includes the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Victor valleys. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.

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