Ini­tia­tive would ex­pand DNA gath­er­ing, re­strict early pa­role.

Imperial Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE -

SACRA­MENTO (AP) — A Demo­cratic law­maker on Mon­day pro­posed a bal­lot mea­sure that would bar cer­tain con­victed rapists and sex traf­fick­ers from be­ing el­i­gi­ble for early re­lease and ex­pand the list of crimes for which a per­pe­tra­tor’s DNA is col­lected.

Assem­bly­man Jim Cooper of Elk Grove, a for­mer Sacra­mento County Sher­iff’s cap­tain, said he’s tak­ing the mea­sure to Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers be­cause Demo­cratic lead­ers re­peat­edly stonewalled leg­is­la­tion to en­act sim­i­lar changes.

“This ini­tia­tive holds bad peo­ple ac­count­able,” Cooper said at a news con­fer­ence out­side the Capi­tol flanked by pros­e­cu­tors and law en­force­ment of­fi­cers.

The mea­sure needs 365,880 sig­na­tures to go be­fore vot­ers in the 2018 gen­eral elec­tion. It would roll back crim­i­nal jus­tice re­forms im­ple­mented through voter-backed Propo­si­tion 47 in 2014 and Propo­si­tion 57 in 2016.

Propo­si­tion 57 al­lows non­vi­o­lent in­mates to pe­ti­tion for early re­lease and to par­tic­i­pate in pro­grams such as anger man­age­ment and sub­stance abuse cour­ses that can help knock time off their sen­tence. No one is au­to­mat­i­cally re­leased with­out go­ing be­fore the pa­role board.

Cooper and the Cal­i­for­nia Pub­lic Safety Part­ner­ship said the list of non­vi­o­lent crimes is too ex­pan­sive be­cause it in­cludes things like rape of an un­con­scious per­son and child sex traf­fick­ing, among other of­fenses. The ini­tia­tive would add 15 crimes to the list of vi­o­lent of­fenses that are not el­i­gi­ble for early re­lease.

The ex­pan­sion of DNA col­lec­tion, mean­while, would tar­get cer­tain crimes that were re­duced from felonies to mis­de­meanors un­der Propo­si­tion 47, elim­i­nat­ing the state’s abil­ity to gather DNA ev­i­dence. Pros­e­cu­tors and fam­ily mem­bers of crime vic­tim’s said that col­lec­tion can help en­sure per­pe­tra­tors are put be­hind bars.

“You can’t stand and deny jus­tice to these peo­ple,” said Stan Van Tas­sel, whose aunt was mur­dered in 1973. Her killers were con­victed in 2017 based on DNA ev­i­dence.

Tom Hoff­man, for­mer head of the pa­role di­vi­sion for the De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tions and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, said the pro­pos­als should be de­bated in the Leg­is­la­ture rather than go­ing be­fore vot­ers. Lenore An­der­son, pres­i­dent of Cal­i­for­ni­ans for Safety and Jus­tice, crit­i­cized the mea­sure as “mis­guided.”

“It’s not re­ally driven by what works to stop the cy­cle of crime,” said Lenore An­der­son, pres­i­dent of Cal­i­for­ni­ans for Safety and Jus­tice.

PHOTO/RICH PEDRONCELLI

Assem­bly­man Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove (right), out­lines his pro­posed bal­lot ini­tia­tive that would bar cer­tain con­nected rapists and sex traf­fick­ers from earn­ing cred­its to re­duce their sen­tences, dur­ing a news con­fer­ence on Mon­day in Sacra­mento. AP

AP PHOTO/RICH PEDRONCELLI

Shirley Der­ry­berry, the sis­ter of mur­der vic­tim Doris Der­ry­berry, dis­cusses the use of DNA in solv­ing her sis­ter’s cold case crime dur­ing a news con­fer­ence on Mon­day in Sacra­mento.

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