Law enforcement, elected officials oppose Jerry Brown’s Prop 57 | The Merced Sun-Star

Officials from Merced, Mariposa and Stanislaus counties came together Thursday to voice opposition to Proposition 57, the governor’s public safety and rehabilitation act.

Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II led a news conference in front of the Merced County Courthouse Museum on Thursday morning as law enforcement and government officials formed a semicircle around him. Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke, Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager, Merced police representatives and more spoke against the ballot initiative, which proposes changes to criminal sentencing and parole eligibility.

Morse called Proposition 57 an “ill-conceived, get-out-of-prison-early proposal that will send California back to the days of rampant crime in our communities.”

“Proposition 57 has been falsely billed as offering early release to nonviolent inmates. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

Gray encouraged voters to vote “no” on the initiative.

The initiative proposes giving judges the choice of trying juveniles as adults or minors in court, rather than prosecutors, something critics generally support. The controversial piece of the initiative is the one that increases parole chances for felons convicted of “nonviolent” crimes.

The real issue, opponents say, is how the legislation defines a “nonviolent” offense.

Morse said felons convicted of rape of an unconscious person, assault with a deadly weapon, using weapons of mass destruction, human trafficking of a minor for prostitution and assault of a peace officer would all qualify for good behavior credits or early parole under the initiative.

“Does anyone think these crimes are nonviolent?” Morse said. “Ask the victims, and they’ll tell you most assuredly these are violent crimes.”

The opponents said the initiative would only increase the effects of Assembly Bill 109 and Proposition 47, which they credit for the increase of crime. They say Proposition 57 is the governor’s attempt to further reduce state prison populations.

Dan Newman, a spokesman for the Proposition 57 campaign, said Gray, Morse and others were lying about the public safety and rehabilitation act.

“Absolutely no one is automatically released,” he said in a statement.

Newman said child molesters, rapists and other registered sex offenders will be ineligible for parole under Proposition 57 and already are excluded from parole consideration in a federal court order.

“The list of crimes opponents are peddling is a deliberate mischaracterization of (the Penal Code), which is merely a starting point and includes catchall language saying that anyone who inflicts bodily injury or uses a firearm has committed a violent crime – and is therefore completely ineligible for consideration under the initiative,” Newman said.

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