Chico Enterprise Record Letter to Editor

Before we just jump on the wagon to "repeal propositions 47, 57 and AB 109" and "lock'em up," let's take a moment to reflect.

For decades, the solution to our crime problems was to send criminals to prison. The result? We overstuffed our prisons to the point where we had two choices. Build ore prisons, or let them out. We could not afford the first, we were not going to do the second.

The well-intended solution was to reclassify many low-level felonies as misdemeanors release inmates that were doing well, and assign to the counties low-level offenders for drug treatment and education (Proposition 47,57, and AB 109).

Now, the perception is that these laws have resulted in higher crime rates and that we need to send criminals back to state prison.

So, how was the California Department of Corrections doing at addressing the crime problem before the passage of these new laws? Turns out, not well. Back then, the department statistics show that their recidivism rate was over 60 percent. With these numbers the department was only contributing to the crime problem. 

Perhaps our new approach isn't working. Certainly, our old way was not.

We need to keep trying to find the right solution, and while we are doing that, let's also focus on the root cause of crime. Maybe then we won't have a crime surge to fix.

-Philip Heithecker, Chico