It is apparant, now more than ever, we need to fight to keep our homes, schools and neighborhoods safe.  The budge crisis California is facing is tremendous, however, we cannot compromise public safety and human lives.  As the administration looks at releasing so called “non serious” “non violent” offenders, it is time to face the reality: we WILL pay for these releases, with human lives.  

Releasing inmates in an attempt to save money is not a new idea.  CVUC has been fighting this battle for years.  It is in fact also why in Prop 9 (Marsy’s Law) that was passed overwhelmingly in November, there is a constitutional amendment forbidding the release of prisoners to balance the state budget. However, we have been at the capitol long enough to know, when there is a budget crisis, all is fair game.  That is why we have continued to be on the capitol daily, making sure Legislators know, we will not stand by to see more lives lost in the name of money.

CVU understands that passing a budget is a complicated issue.  We know that everyone must endure cuts, especially in these tough economic times.  But that is also why we have done our homework and for the last 2 years we have met with Legislators and given them packets on where $2 million can be cut from the Corrections budget without releasing one single inmate.

The horrific case of Lily Burke is a prime example of the type of inmate that will qualify for “non serious” “non violent”.  While this man was on parole for petty theft, his prior convictions bely a much more sinister past.  But, prior convictions will not be considered when determining who is “non violent” “non serious”. My heart breaks for the Burke family.  Had a past history of violence been considered, their beautiful daughter might still be alive today. Exactly how does one put a price tag on the life of a promising young girl? 

Collision of 2 L.A. worlds may have led to girl’s death,0,5539742,print.story 

Suspect in Lily Burk slaying had gained pass out of rehab center hours before alleged abduction 

Another case of “nonviolent, nonserious” offenders.  Five years ago these brothers kidnapped and raped a prostitute. While their actual crimes were serious, if not violent; however, due to a plea bargain, they were charged with misdemeanors.  Now, they have kidnapped and raped again. Since their prior more serious offenses were dropped they cannot be used in the prosecution of this new case.  Because they plead to and were charged with misdemeanors, they too would qualify under the Administration’s budget proposals for early release.  Not exactly the “non violent” “non serious” offenders I want hanging out around the local high school or college. 

Rape suspects previously accused in similar case 

And once again, another case of a “non violent” “non serious” parolee, whose behaviour only escalates.  This auto theft parolee steals a vehicle and leads police on a dangerous high speed chase; even attempting to ram a sheriff’s cruiser. While in this case no once was killed it was only be the grace of God and not a result of this man’s concious. 

Parolee captured after high-speed chase 

And 2 more cases of death at the hands of parolees.  In Woodland a 17 year old is dead with a gunshot wound to his head; while in Kerman a man arrested on auto theft was released from the county jail just days earlier to this murder because of over crowding. 

Teen slaying victim identified in Woodland 

Kerman couple’s throats slit, official say 

It is extremely important to note, that these are just a few cases that ALL occured within this past week.  I believe a very telling sign of what is to come if we allow the release of these inmates. This illustrates what CVUC has been saying for years – “nonviolent” and “nonserious” offenders are rarely such as  often there are prior offenses that say differently or they have plea bargained to lesser offenses essentially masking the real crimes they’ve committed. 

Crime Victims United of California will continue to fight at the Capitol for victims and work to prevent further victims.  We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of this serious issue.

Harriet Salarno -Chair
Crime Victims United of California
“Protecting Today’s Victims; Preventing Tomorrows”