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RELEASING CRIMINALS ? WHY?

  • WHY DOES CALIFORNIA THINK RELEASING CRIMINALS BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS IS A GOOD IDEA?

    Charles Fain Lehman - MAY 4, 2020 3:30 PM

    A California man was arrested and released three times in one day for different offenses, causing consternation among the Golden State's law enforcement community.

    Dijon Landrum, 24, was apprehended three times in one day by Glendora, Calif., police—twice for driving different stolen vehicles and once for being in possession of stolen property. Each time he was cited and then released with referral for prosecution.

    Landrum's serial apprehension came thanks to emergency regulations implemented by the state which set bail for misdemeanors and lower-level offenses to zero dollars, effectively mandating release.

    The move, implemented in early April, was meant as an emergency measure to keep jail populations low in the face of the novel coronavirus. As Landrum's case makes clear, however, it has permitted repeat offenders to roam free. That reality interacts poorly with California's preexisting attempts to soften criminal consequences, including a 2014 ballot proposition that labeled most nonviolent property and drug crimes as misdemeanors.

    Police have been vocal about the unintended consequences of the emergency order. Late last month, Los Angeles resident Eric Medina was arrested four times in three weeks on suspicion of grand theft auto, then released each time under the zero-bail policy. LAPD chief Michel Moore told the Los Angeles Times that he thought zero bail should not apply to such serial cases: "I think repeat offenders need to be off the streets."

    Others however, have doubled down on support for reform. George Gascón, former San Francisco district attorney, told the Times that the coronavirus has simply forced an encounter with an important question: "Does keeping huge numbers of people in custody on small-time offenses pose a greater threat to us all than letting them out?"

    California is not the only state to see repeat offenders take advantage of newly lenient bail laws. New York state's hotly contested bail reform law, which came into effect in January, resulted in a Long Island man arrested for a fatal DWI telling cops, "the law's changed, I’ll be out tomorrow."

     

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