Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado recently made a stop in his hometown of Santa Maria to ask Californians to help him “end this crazy thing called A.B. 109.”
Enacted in October 2011, Assembly Bill 109, or the prison realignment act, aims to solve overcrowding problems at the state’s prisons by releasing low-level offenders to county jails. The success of the legislation, however, has been up for debate because of the added strain it’s placed on local law enforcement.
Maldonado took his criticisms one step further at a press conference on May 16 in front of the Santa Barbara County sheriff’s substation on West Foster Road. The Santa Maria native has been traveling up and down the state promoting his newest political endeavor, Protect California Families, an initiative to repeal A.B. 109.
During the press conference, Maldonado used crime statistics from his hometown as an example of what he calls the negative impact of the legislation.
“Right after A.B. 109 passed in February of 2012, there were five burglaries in Santa Maria. One year later in February 2013, there were 50 burglaries,” he said. “It’s a direct correlation to A.B. 109.”
He also referenced the Anthony Ibarra murder case, saying that four of the 10 people suspected of torturing and killing the 28-year-old Santa Maria man were “A.B. 109ers.”
“[Gov. Jerry Brown] has shifted the No. 1 responsibility of the governor, which is public safety, to the sheriffs and counties,” an incensed Maldonado said from behind a podium.
One of the major flaws of the bill, he said, is that it only looks at a criminal’s last offense when determining whether he or she can be released. That means someone who committed a violent crime in the past, but is currently in jail for a lesser crime, can be released.
The governor and the Legislature, he said, “didn’t tell everybody what A.B. 109 really was.”
Maldonado went on to say that the groups affected most by the legislation are the black and Latino communities.
“[Offenders] aren’t being released in Pebble Beach, Bel Air, or Beverly Hills; they’re being released in places like Santa Maria,” he said.
Maldonado said he and his fellow committee members plan to collect 600,000 to 700,000 signatures to get the initiative on the June 2014 ballot. Some of the other committee members include Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren and Joyful Child Foundation founder Erin Runnion, whose daughter, Samantha, was kidnapped and murdered by a Lake Elsinor man who was previously acquitted of molesting two other girls.