After Issuing Death Sentence on CA’s Death Penalty, Gov. Newsom Approves 3 more Prison Closures

Gov. Jerry Brown’s AB 109 was the first move by California Democrats to dismantle California’s criminal justice system

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“Newsom has approved three California prison closures but resists pressure to shutter more,” the Los Angeles Times headline reports… as if Gov. Newsom is so altruistic, he is restraining himself from closing more prisons – for the good of the people.

After running for governor on upholding voter’s support of the death penalty, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in March 2019, shortly after taking office, that he would grant reprieves for all death penalty murderers on California’s death row. He called the death penalty “ineffective, irreversible and immoral.” Newsom then signed an executive order putting a moratorium on the executions of the 737 inmates currently incarcerated in California’s death row.

With Newsom’s announcement a political friend said, “Another 737 just went down.”

“We cannot advance the death penalty in an effort to soften the blow of what happens to these victims,” Newsom said. “If someone kills, we do not kill. We’re better than that.”

In 2016, California voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have repealed the death penalty, and instead voted to expedite the executions of the inmates currently sitting on death row. Newsom supported the initiative to repeal.

“With his announcement that he is granting sentencing reprieves for all death penalty eligible murderers on California’s death row, Governor Gavin Newsom has substituted his own opinion for the repeated decisions of the state’s voters,” Michael Rushford with the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation said in an interview.

While Gov. Newsom and the state’s Democrat lawmakers continue to dismantle the criminal justice system, top to bottom, poll after poll shows escalating crime is one of the top issues among  Californians, which is why voters passed Proposition 66 in 2016, reaffirming the state’s death penalty, but also to speed up the appeals process.

In 2016 when Prop. 66 was passed, it was intended to be a remedy to the most heinous criminals sitting on death row for 30 years, with endless appeals delaying justice and costing taxpayers hundreds of millions – and to ensure no innocent person was executed. Opponents sued, taking the case to the California Supreme Court, which upheld voters’ decision, but watered down a part of the initiative. The Court stated that provisions requiring the state to speed up the death penalty appeals process were directive, rather than mandatory.

On the latest prison closures, the LA Times addresses the 2011 Supreme Court ruling that deemed overcrowding of prisons unconstitutional and ruled that prisons cannot exceed 137.5% of capacity. That same year, the state passed a law that relocated low-level offenders without prior serious or violent felonies to serve their time in a county jail instead of state prison.

What they don’t say is that Gov. Jerry Brown’s Assembly Bill 109, the “Prison Realignment” bill was the first move by California Democrats to dismantle California’s criminal justice system.

Assembly Bill 109, in 2011, was then-Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature legislation he sold as “prison realignment.” However, AB 109 only served to overwhelm county jails by moving “nonviolent” state offenders from prison. Gov. Brown could have built more prisons, but instead reduced the population by releasing or pushing inmates to local county jails, which are not designed to house someone past a year, and prevents law enforcement from taking low-level offenders in.

Adding insult to injury, Proposition 47, passed by misinformed voters in 2014, flagrantly titled “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” decriminalized drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, removing law enforcement’s ability to make an arrest in most circumstances, as well as removing judges’ ability to order drug rehabilitation programs rather than incarceration. And perhaps the most obvious aspect of Prop. 47 on display today raised the theft threshold to $950 per location, and bumped theft down to a misdemeanor from a felony.

Proposition 57, shamelessly titled “the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act” passed in 2016, now allows nonviolent felons to qualify for early release, and parole boards can now only consider an inmate’s most recent charge, and not their entire history because of this proposition. Notably, both Prop. 47 and 57 were given their ballot titles by then-Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Crimes now considered “nonviolent” under Proposition 57 in California include:

  • human trafficking of a child
  • rape of an unconscious person or by intoxication
  • drive by shooting at inhabited dwelling or vehicle
  • assault with a firearm or deadly weapon
  • assault on a police officer
  • serial arson
  • exploding a bomb to injure people
  • solicitation to commit murder
  • assault from a caregiver to a child under eight years old that could result in a coma or death
  • felony domestic violence. 

Ten years of increased drug and serial theft crimes, and a violent crime wave across California has taken its toll on the state’s residents and businesses. A proposed ballot initiative to amend Prop. 47 is currently collecting signatures for the November 2024 ballot. More than 500,000 California voters have already signed the petition to place the measure on the ballot.

The campaign reports that a survey of likely California voters found that 70% of voters support the title and summary of the Homeless, Drug Addiction, Retail Theft Reduction Act. The overwhelming support was consistent across every demographic and geography including the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Furthermore, 89% of likely voters support amending Proposition 47 for stronger penalties for those engaged in repeated retail theft and trafficking hard drugs like fentanyl. The measure also includes incentives to complete drug and mental health treatment for people who are addicted to hard drugs.

Gov. Newsom’s push to close more prisons ahead of Californians’ opportunity to vote on Prop. 47 reforms make his agenda clear – he’s not interested in the safety and security of California’s residents – he’s prioritizing campaign funders and anti-criminal justice special interests.

The LA Times reports on more Democrat altruism:

Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Alameda), both members of the Legislative Black Caucus whose priorities include prison reform, say they want more prisons to close.

Bradford said that he supports a more “holistic vision” of public safety.

“Investing in rehabilitation will pay dividends by reducing the revolving door of recidivism and will allow formerly incarcerated individuals to successfully re-integrate when they return home to their communities and families,” he told The Times in an email.

While serving in her former role as chair of the Assembly’s budget subcommittee on public safety, Bonta was outspoken about the opportunity California had to close more prisons.

“We have an insurmountable budget deficit,” she said, referring to the state’s $73-billion budget shortfall estimated by the Legislative Analyst’s Office. Bonta said the deficit is forcing the legislature to look for cuts.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe


  1. Really??? says

    Let’s see. Democrats led by Winneee and Slick want to close prisons.

    Does that mean they want the criminals living in their neighborhoods? Does this mean Waters who lives miles from her supposed legal address wants them next to her?

    You voted for them, you are driving people out of the state and telling producers there is no long range reason to live here.

    Sure Dem. open the borders, free welfare, and while I pay for health care give the criminals anything they want.

    If you vote Dem. you really are that dumb.

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