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AB 109 may be to blame for rash of Southern California shootings

March 19, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A recent rash of shootings across Southern California has law enforcement officials wondering if AB 109, the California law which in part releases low-level inmates from prison, is starting to be felt in the streets.

There have been eleven shootings in the last three days across the Southland. In Downey, a suspect shot two people in the parking lot of a restaurant. In Panorama City, one man was shot and killed as he walked down a street. In Echo Park, one man was critically wounded in a shooting.

"In 16 months, we've seen initially an increase in property crimes and the predictions were that would then transition to violent crimes. I think we're starting to see that now," said Covina Police Chief Kim Raney.

Raney is also the president of the California Police Chiefs Association. He said while it's difficult to link the surge in crime to AB 109, he believes it's a factor.

"I think the reality is that we are dealing with people in our communities who have historically have either been in county jail or state prison, and because of re-alignment, budget issues, those people are no longer in custody, they are being minimally supervised and they're back in our communities," Raney said.

The Los Angeles County Probation Department disagrees. It said there is no evidence to link any increase in crime to any of the prisoners being released through AB 109. It said their idea is to provide rehabilitation outside of jail.

The Los Angeles Police Department has about 150 officers tracking prisoners released through AB 109, but Chief Charlie Beck says his department needs help from the state.

"I'm not asking that the governor to do the impossible and put the genie back in the bottle and undo AB 109, but at least to look at giving municipalities some funding so that we can address the needs of these folks that come out into society," Beck said.

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