Merced Violence Interruption/Prevention Emergency Response (VIPER) Program – Support – 5/11/2016
According to statistics released by the California Department of Justice, Merced County recorded the highest homicide rate in California among counties with populations of 100,000 or more. Also, according to 2014 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) statistics, the City of Merced recorded the second highest number of murders in California for cities of 50,000-100,000, outranked only by Compton, California. There are several contributing factors to the rise in crime, including organized criminal enterprises operating in the area, high unemployment, and budget cuts resulting in reductions in the number of personnel employed in the criminal justice community.
The proposed VIPER program utilizes an information management approach to direct existing enforcement and prosecution resources. There will be two phases of the program — the first phase will develop and staff an information analysis unit, and the second phase will consist of the development of new initiatives and partnerships, which stimulate community involvement. The County of Merced will benefit from this appropriation by utilizing our agents, resources, and technology within the Department of Justice to implement this new program.
Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016 – Support – 2/2/2016
The Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016 reforms the appeals process, death row housing and victim restitution and provides agency oversight on execution protocols. First, the initiative reforms the appeals project by expanding the pool of available defense attorneys and requires that the attorney be appointed at the time of sentencing, which will results in defendants’ claims being heard sooner. Second, by eliminating single cell housing of death row inmates, the Legislative Analyst states that the initiative will save the state tens of millions of dollars every year. Also, this act will require death row inmates to work while in prison and pay restitution to their victims’ families, consistent with the Victims’ Bill of Rights. Refusal to work and pay restitution will result in loss of special privileges. Last, by allowing the California Supreme Court oversight authority, the Department of Corrections will be held accountable for expediting secondary review of death penalty cases in a timelier manner. The death penalty and the appeals process need to be significantly reformed in order to provide law enforcement the tools necessary to keep California’s communities safe.
California Over-Policed Rights Act – Opposed – 1/11/2016
History and Legislative Basis of COPRA
COPRA would provide persons in California with the right to file suit against police jurisdictions that have acted “discriminatorily or with too much force.” To determine whether a jurisdiction is over-policed, this Act would rely predominantly on data compiled pursuant to Section 12525.5 of the California Government Code or Sections 13010 or 13012 of the Penal Code. These code sections were created as a result of AB 953 (Weber) of 2014, which we were vehemently opposed to. The law modifies the definition of racial profiling, requires state and local law enforcement to report specified information related to stops to the Attorney General’s office and creates a new Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board (RIPA). Although Assembly Member Weber was thoughtful and well-intentioned in crafting AB 953, the end result proves highly problematic, cumbersome, costly, and overly broad.