As California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his Democratic allies in the legislature take aim at legal gun owners with a slate of new infringements on the right to keep and bear arms (more on that coming up on today’s Cam & Co, by the way), the District Attorney in Fresno County says the Democrats’ criminal justice “reform” efforts are fueling violent crime and played a direct role in the shooting death of a police officer in the small town of Selma on Tuesday.
A 23-year old suspect was taken into custody shortly after the officer was shot while responding to reports of a suspicious person, and District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp says her office is familiar with the man. In fact, less than a year ago prosecutors in Fresno County thought they’d managed to put him behind bars for a significant period of time, only to see him walk free just a few months after his sentence was handed down.
In a statement, District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp said the suspect, “is an admitted gang member and has been arrested for several felony offenses” that were prosecuted by her office related to robbery, weapons, and drugs.
Smittcamp said the suspect was sentenced in March 2022 to five years and 4 months in prison, but was released 5 months later as a result of credits for time served in local jail and other factors.
“The Governor and certain members of the California legislature have created a warped system that allows active and violent criminals to receive arbitrary ‘time credits’ in an effort to reduce the state prison population to reach their goals of closing more prison facilities,” Smittcamp said.
She said state leaders who support “this over-reaching phenomenon they try to disguise as legitimate criminal justice reform has the blood of this officer on their hands.”
There’s evidence that, while violent crime has been increasing in California, arrests have been declining. And even when an individual is charged with a crime, as Smittcamp points out, the state seems to be intent on keeping offenders out of prison, or releasing them as soon as possible if they are sent to a penitentiary after a conviction or guilty plea.
Newsom has already shut down three prisons in California, and cuts to six more facilities have been announced. Perversely, as crime is going up, the number of offenders behind bars keeps dropping.
State prisons last week held about 96,000 incarcerated people, about 3,100 less than this time last year and down from about 120,000 in 2019 and about 160,000 in 2011.
California’s average daily prison population for 2022-23 is now projected to be 96,157, a decrease of 6.6% since the spring 2022 projections. The population is projected to continue its long-term downward trend, dropping to a daily average of 87,295 in 2025-26. The parolee population is projected to decline from the daily average of 43,668 in this fiscal year to 36,473 by June 30, 2027.
The ostensible reason for the closures is a court order dating back to 2009 that required California to address overcrowding in its correctional system. Rather than increasing the number of beds and staff, however, California decided to embark on an experiment in reducing the number of inmates (even while creating brand new crimes carved out of the right to keep and bear arms), and the disastrous results are plain to see.
While Newsom will probably blame this officer’s death on a lack of gun control, as a convicted felon the suspect was barred by both state and federal law from lawfully possessing a firearm. If the 23-year old suspect had served even half of his five-year sentence, on the other hand, he wouldn’t have been out on the street and in a position to allegedly take a life. The sad reality is that California’s gun control laws aren’t making the state a safer place, and the “reforms” enacted by Newsom and the California legislature are actually making things worse; putting more criminals on the street with few consequences for their previous crimes, and making it almost impossible for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from the predators let loose by the state’s soft-on-crime politicians.