Crime and Public Safety (Other than Corrections)

Next to the Corrections issue, the major issue which has now become a two-year issue is the establishment of a California Sentencing Commission. The bills which will be part of any negotiation are SB 110 (Romero), AB 160 (Lieber), and AB 1708 (Swanson). The Governor had proposed a creation of a commission, but dropped it during the May Budget revision. At the present time, there are 16 states that have commissions. The sponsors of a commission state it will overhaul the sentencing laws which assist in limiting the loads on prisons and bringing costs under control and to respond to a possible federal receivership of the prisons.

In a related issue concerning sentencing, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed SB 40 (Romero) which addresses the United States Supreme Court case of Cunningham v. California. The court held that California's Determinate Sentencing Law of 1976 violates a defendant's right to a trial by jury under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments because it is the judge, rather than the jury that is required to determine if they are "aggravating factors" which justify an upper or maximum term of imprisonment. However, the Supreme Court will permit judges to continue to sentence defendants to upper terms if they are given genuine authority to "exercise discretion within a statutory range." SB 40 (Romero) provides that where a crime is punishable by a lower, middle or upper term of imprisonment, the choice of appropriate term will be left to the sound discretion of the court, and will sunset on 1/1/09. It also requires the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, commencing 7/1/07, to post on its Internet web site, biannual updates for that calendar year of the number of felons admitted to state prison with at least one upper term sentence.

In March 2007, Senators Perata and Romero decided to hold bills known as "receivership/conservatory crisis aggravators" for the rest of the year. These bills have the effect of lengthening sentencing or proposing new crimes. The purpose of their decision was to delay these bills until meaningful reforms can be provided in the sentencing system.

An issue in the criminal justice system that is still at the forefront is the sexually violent predator program and Jessica's Law. Proposition 83, sponsored by Senator George Runner and Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, overlaid SB 1128 (Alquist) which was signed into law in 2006 by increasing penalties for specified sex crimes and by decreasing, from two to one, the number of qualifying victims and making additional prior offenses count toward making an offender eligible for evaluation and commitment as a sexually violent predatory in a state mental hospital. This Proposition increased the costs of Jessica's Law for the current budget year (2006-07) which prompted necessary legislation (SB 866-Runner) to pay these costs. The bill appropriated $12.5 million. A follow-up bill was SB 101 (Ducheny) which appropriated $18.642 million. Of this amount, $15.7 million was earmarked for adult parole operations, $1.531 million for adult operations, and the Board of Parole Hearings was slated to receive approximately $1.39 million of the funds. Funds were to be used for active and passive global positioning satellite units and correlating caseloads, additional parole agents and facilities, overtime, training, equipment, modulars, consulting and professional services, and non-parole agent positions. Other sex offender legislation signed into law in 2007 included: SB 172 (Alquist) making technical and clarifying changes to SB 1128 and Proposition 83 of 2006 in order to prevent confusion in sex offender law; SB 449 (Aanestad) adding 17 crimes to the list of sex offenses that qualify for the protection of victims' names and addresses from disclosure under the Public Records Act; SB 542 (Romero) requiring that any right to DNA testing that may exist for a person subject to Sexually Violent Predator provisions are in conformity with those provisions relating to incarcerated persons; AB 1172 (Runner) enhancing the notification requirements related to the release of any sexually violent predator or high-risk sex offender back into the community; and AB 1809 (Spitzer) including continuous sexual abuse of a child in the list of specified violent felonies which prohibit a parolee from being returned to a location within 35 miles of the actual residence of a victim or witness, if the victim or witness has requested additional distance in the placement. The Governor vetoed AB 1706 (Assembly Public Safety Committee) which would have reorganized and renumbered provisions that set forth the sex offender registration requirements because of several noticeable errors that remain in the bill which could have an adverse effect on the registration requirements. The Governor indicated he would sign a clean-up bill in 2008.

Another issue of concern that the Governor and Legislature worked together on was the prevention of the proliferation of gang violence which has increased over the last several years. The Governor proposed the California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention Program to target more than $48 million in state and federal funds toward local anti-gang efforts, including job training, education and intervention programs, and giving law enforcement the tools to track gang leaders more closely both under state prisons and when they are released. The Governor, in September, appointed United States Attorney Paul Seave as Director of Gang and Youth Violence Policy. Significant gang-related legislation enacted into law included: SB 271 (Cedillo) allowing any district attorney or city prosecuting attorney to maintain an action for damages against a criminal street gang or its members as part of an action enjoining a gang nuisance; SB 690 (Calderon) and AB 104 (Solorio) requiring local criminal justice agencies to provide local criminal history information to city attorneys pursuing civil gang injunctions, or drug abatement actions, as specified; AB 1013 (Krekorian) adding the circumstance of a person who commits an offense involving use of illegal weapons or ammunition or uses the premises to further that purpose to those circumstances that are deemed to constitute a nuisance which may allow a landlord to evict a gang offender; AB 1291 (Mendoza) authorizing anti-gang violence classes for parents of juveniles found in violation of specified gang-related offense; AB 1300 (Price) expanding the law to include comprehensive education to youthful offenders, in addition to training, treatment and rehabilitative services; and AB 1381 (Nunez) creating, within the Office of Emergency Services, the Office of Gang and Youth Violence Policy to be responsible for identifying and evaluating state, local, and federal gang and youth violence suppression, and prevention programs and strategies, along with funding for those efforts. The Governor vetoed SB 165 (Ashburn) making minors under the age of 14 years who have committed misdemeanor violations of the prohibitions against participation in criminal street gangs eligible for programs of informal probation supervision established by Section 654 et seq. of the Welfare Institutions Code. At the time of this writing, Senator George Runner and Assemblymember Sharon Runner are circulating an initiative to curtail the growing gang problem.

Other significant Senate crime and public safety legislation chaptered into law included: SB 67 (Perata) reinstating law that was sunsetted on December 31, 2006, which provided that when a person is arrested for reckless driving, reckless driving in a parking facility, exhibition of speed or a speed contest, the officer may seize and impound the vehicle for 30 days; SB 82 (Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee) enacting the public safety and funding trailer bill for the 2007 State Budget; SB 248 (Padilla) authorizing local law enforcement agencies to enter ballistics data needed to investigate crime into the federal National Integrated Ballistic Information Network system; SB 340 (Ackerman) allowing the Attorney General to furnish summary criminal history information to investigators conducting guardianship and specified conservatorship investigations at the request of a court; SB 407 (Romero) clarifying that the domestic violence victim-counselor evidentiary privilege does not extend to an abusive conservator or guardian, and revising the definition of "domestic violence counselor" to exclude government agency employees; SB 518 (Migden) enacting a Youth Bill of Rights for incarcerated youth, as specified, and imposing specified requirements on the Division of Juvenile Facilities related to the rights of youthful offenders; SB 568 (Wiggins) allowing counties to deem a jail a treatment facility which may be used to provide medically approved treatment of defendants found to be mentally incompetent due to a mental disorder, as specified; SB 594 (Romero) changing the name of the Witness Protection Program to the Witness Relocation and Assistance Program, making changes to the program to allow for reimbursement related to relocation and allowing for greater administrative funds by the Attorney General; SB 611 (Steinberg) allowing the use of attachment in cases involving financial abuse of an elder or dependent adult; SB 690 (Calderon) allowing the release of local summary criminal history information for a scholarly or journalistic purpose; SB 776 (Vincent) allowing county child welfare agencies to exchange criminal record clearances when a child in foster care moves with a relative from one county to another; SB 868 (Ridley-Thomas) requiring a public authority or nonprofit consortium investigating potential in-home support service personnel to get criminal history information; SB 880 (Calderon) repealing, until January 1, 2011, the state prohibition and criminal penalty on the importation or sale of kangaroo parts or products in California; SB 883 (Calderon) increasing the limitation of an award by the California Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board for outpatient mental health counseling from $3,000 to $5,000; and SB 898 (Simitian) extending, for five years, the State Children's Trust Fund for the Prevention of Child Abuse income tax checkoff.

Assembly crime and public safety legislation signed into law included: AB 159 (Jones) seeking to authorize 50 new superior court judgeships and the conversion of existing subordinate judicial officer positions to judgeships upon the vacancy of subordinate judicial officer positions and subsequent authorization by the Legislature; AB 181 (Beall) removing the 20-year limitation on Automated Fingerprint and Digital Image Photographic Suspect Booking Identification System Fund; AB 282 (Cook) providing that it is an infraction for a person to, orally, in writing, or be wearing, any military decoration, as defined, falsely represent himself/herself to have been awarded any military decoration, with the intent to defraud; AB 289 (Spitzer) allowing a court to issue a protective order for 10 years upon a defendant's conviction of willful infliction of corporal injury; AB 298 (Maze) providing support and priority for relative caregivers of children under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court; AB 369 (Solorio) allowing Court-Appointed Special Advocate programs to access child abuse investigation information contained in the Child Abuse Central Index for employment and volunteer candidates, as specified; AB 475 (Emmerson) requiring a person seeking to have his/her arrest record destroyed to serve a copy of the petition on the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the offense and to allow the law enforcement agency to present evidence at the motion through the district attorney; AB 569 (Portantino) extending the sunset date regulating government interception of electronic communications from January 1, 2008 until January 1, 2012; AB 587 (Karnette) appropriating $5 million from the Antiterrorism Fund to develop antiterrorism training courses and to reimburse local public safety agencies for antiterrorism training activities; AB 645 providing that convictions of specified Vehicle Code offenses cannot be withdrawn after probation or dismissed because of attendance at traffic school; AB 670 (Spitzer) requiring a person who owns or has custody or control of an animal and knows, or has reason to know, that the animal bit another person to provide specified personal identifying information to that other person; AB 673 (Hayashi) adding death by other than accidental means to the definition of "child abuse and neglect" contained in the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Law; AB 679 (Benoit) providing that the court shall impose a fine of either $100 or $200 on the defendant convicted of various littering and illegal dumping offenses; AB 854 (Keene) exempting the loan of a firearm by a dealer to a "consultant-evaluator" from the existing requirements regarding transfer of firearms, including the 10-day waiting period and various recordkeeping requirements; AB 896 (Runner) allowing, among other things, a peace officer to seize a sequential journal of notarial acts from a notary public without a warrant; AB 920 (Brownley) making it a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, for any peace officer, law enforcement employee, attorney or trial court attorney to disclose for financial gain, or solicit for financial gain, any information obtained in the course of a criminal investigation; AB 924 (Emmerson) strengthening vehicle theft laws by eliminating the profit gained from this criminal activity; AB 1048 (Richardson) allowing the Attorney General to disseminate summary criminal history information to dumping enforcement officers upon the showing of a compelling need; AB 1079 (Richardson) requiring the Department of Justice to establish and chair a task force to conduct a review of California's crime laboratory system; AB 1165 (Maze) making it unlawful for a person who is on probation for specified driving under the influence offenses to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.01% or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening; AB 1199 (Richardson) allowing application of enhanced penalties against any person who commits two or more related felonies, a material element of which is fraud or embezzlement and involves a pattern of related felony conduct which results in the loss by another person or entity of more than $100,000; AB 1229 (Carter) adding an additional rank and file peace officer to the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, as specified; AB 1448 (Niello) requiring law enforcement uniform vendors to verify that a person buying a uniform is an employee of the law enforcement agency identified on the uniform, and making it a misdemeanor to fail to verify identity; AB 1471 (Feuer) requiring specified semiautomatic pistols to be equipped with microscopic identifying markings which are transferred to each cartridge case when the firearm is fired; AB 1514 (Maze) requiring a juvenile court judicial officer to make orders regarding the administration of psychotropic medications to a ward of the court who is removed from the physical custody of a parent, and placed into foster care; AB 1645 (La Malfa) forbidding the Governor from seizing or confiscating guns or ammunition, during a state of war or a state of emergency from any person lawfully carrying or possessing the gun or ammunition, as specified; AB 1658 (Runner) increasing the fines for trying to purchase alcohol by persons under 21 years old and manufacturing of false identification cards and licenses; AB 1686 (Leno) increasing the fine from $1,000 to $2,000 when an assault is committed against a parking control officer in the performance of his/her duty; and AB 1705 (Niello) extending, until January 1, 2018, the sunset date on provisions of law that provided for additional terms of imprisonment, depending on the extent of the loss, for the taking or damaging of property in the commission or attempted commission of a felony.

Vetoed significant crime and public safety legislation included: SB 511 (Alquist) requiring custodial interrogations of a person suspected of a homicide or a violent felony to be recorded; SB 851 (Steinberg) authorizing superior courts to develop and implement mental health courts, as specified, which may operate as a pre-guilty plea program and deferred entry of judgment program, and allowing parolee participation in mental health court, as specified; SB 609 (Romero) providing that a defendant cannot be convicted based on the uncorroborated testimony of an in-custody informant; SB 756 (Ridley-Thomas) requiring that the Department of Justice and others develop guidelines for policies and procedures in the collection and handling of eyewitness evidence in criminal investigations, as specified; AB 81 (Torrico) expanding the "Safe-Surrender Law" to allow a parent or other person with lawful custody of a child seven days old or younger to be surrendered to safe-surrender sites, as specified; AB 502 (Calderon) enacting a two-year pilot program that requires the City of Los Angeles to contract with, or arrange for, a nonprofit organization to provide aid to victims of domestic violence who are undocumented immigrants, subject to appropriation in the Budget Act of no more than $145,000, as specified; AB 658 (Bass) establishing the Community Homicide and Violence Reduction Program; AB 684 ( Leno) clarifying the definition of "marijuana" contained in the Uniformed Controlled Substance Act to exclude industrial hemp, except where the plant is cultivated or processed for purposes not expressly allowed, as specified; AB 878 (Davis) increasing, to $2, the maximum annual vehicle registration fee that may be assessed for vehicle theft deterrence programs; and AB 1669 (Leno) appropriating $3 million from the Restitution Fund in order to fund a program to award grants for regional trauma recovery centers.