Sacramento mayor, along with criminal justice reform advocates and some Democratic state lawmakers, called for nearly $3 billion in funding for increased behavioral health treatment, prison re-entry resources and assistance to victims of crime. The proposal comes three days after a mass shooting left six people dead and a dozen others injured.
The shooting has already sparked growing calls for tougher gun laws in California and nationwide. Others called on the state to reverse the course of efforts to reduce criminal sentences following the fatal incident and the whole increase in violent and property crimes in 2021.
Steinberg said his calls for more investment in crime prevention and support for victims were unrelated to a suspect in the shooting being granted an early release from prison.
The mayor said he had “very serious questions about why the alleged perpetrators – and this is an allegation – were on the streets”.
According to the Sacramento Bee, one of the suspects, Smiley Martin, 27, was released in February — four years after serving a 10-year sentence. Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s office argued that Martin posed a danger to society and asked the Board of Parole Hearings that he remain in prison.
Police have arrested two people, including Smiley Martin and his brother, Dandrae Martin, in connection with the shooting, but neither has been charged with homicide. Sacramento police said Wednesday they believe there were at least five shooters and that the incident was possibly “gang-related”.
Rather than revert to so-called “reaction to crime” policies, Steinberg and others have called for more investment in victims and those released from prison with limited resources or housing.
The mayor also called for a legal right to housing and mental health care, saying that without it, “we will always have broken systems. For my part, I’m fed up. I was sick of it long before the trauma in my community.
Groups including Californians for Safety and Justice, ACLU California Action and Smart Justice California sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, pro Senate Speaker Tem Toni Atkins (D – San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D – Lakewood) asking for the nearly $3 billion in funding for victims and those getting out of jail to stay on their feet.
“These investments in mental health, rehabilitation, and victim services would immediately help reduce the state’s changing rates of violence and alleviate the acute crises that many victims of crime face across the state.” , indicates the letter.
Specifically, the letter sent to Newsom and legislative leaders calls for:
- $210 million for victim services, including trauma recovery services, legal services and cash assistance.
- $100 million per year to fund victim compensation.
- $200 million to fund addiction treatment for people with mental illness in the criminal justice system.
- $100 million for block grants for cities and counties partners with community organizations to “develop public health solutions for people who are frequently arrested for minor offenses and who move through the prison and hospital systems.”
- $80 million for community organizations through the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program.
- $200 million for rehabilitation housing, per Assembly Bill 1816.
- $200 million to increase the capacity of community reintegration programs
- $50 million for workforce development and direct cash assistance.
- Support for Newsom’s proposal to spend $1.5 billion on behavioral health and addiction treatment, as well as other Governor’s proposals, including:
- Approximately $445 million in ongoing funding for drug treatment, inside and outside of prisons.
- Nearly $8 million to increase non-policing response to mental health crises.
- $86 million from opioid settlement funds for public awareness campaigns.
The letter also calls on lawmakers to continue efforts to reduce incarceration and shorten prison terms for some convicts.
last fall, Newsom signed bills limiting improvements to gangs and ending mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offences, among others.
Proposition 47 – which does not affect violent crime conviction – has also been the subject of debate in recent months as retail theft and other property crimes have dominated the headlines. The ballot measure was approved in 2014 and reduced some property and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.
Several Democratic lawmakers have made clear they will not back down from broader efforts to reduce criminal sentencing, despite mounting public pressure.
According to a Berkeley IGS poll in February, a majority of voters said they supported the Proposition 47 changes, which reduced penalties for certain thefts and non-violent drug crimes. The same poll showed that 78% of voters said they thought crime had increased in California over the past year.
“The cheap and easy political thing to do is to say, ‘lock them up and throw the key away,’” said Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D–Los Angeles). “But it didn’t work. In fact, we are here today because decades of tough on crime policies have created the situation we find ourselves in today, where we have incarcerated people of color en masse in working-class communities.
Republican House Leader James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) said in an interview Wednesday that he was open to discussing rehabilitation efforts, but also believed criminal sentencing reforms should be reconsidered. .
“Certainly, as Republicans, we believe in rehabilitation,” Gallagher said. “But we have to be held accountable. And therein lies the real problem. »
He also called for more efforts to recover illegally held weapons and an end to emergency rules allowing early release of detainees due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We absolutely have to prevent these emergency regulations from giving these people early release with credits — especially when all the people watching these parolees are saying they’re not ready to be released,” Gallagher said.
The $3 billion request from Steinberg and criminal justice reform groups is a budget request. Newsom has already offered to spend about $1.5 billion on more niche behavioral health treatments as part of his January budget proposal.
The governor will present an updated spending proposal in May. The legislature must pass a final budget by June 15.
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