Guest opinion column by County Supervisor Sue Frost–
In 2014 California passed Proposition 47, which reduced the classification of many nonviolent property and drug crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor. This policy resulted in a surge of automobile and petty theft crimes throughout the state of California, and the effect of this was seen in businesses and on the streets of Sacramento County almost immediately.
Since our jails are overcrowded and we do not have room to jail people for misdemeanor crimes, local law enforcement would arrest someone for something like theft or drug dealing, only for them to be released that same day, skip bail, and get arrested soon after for something new.
There was a person committing crimes in Orangevale who was the poster-child for this behavior. He was unofficially referred to as the “Mayor of Orangevale” and was locally notorious for always being drunk in public and wreaking havoc on the community. In a period of eight days he was arrested six times, and each time he would be right back in the community the same day he was booked into jail.
The District Attorney’s office has also said another person in the County had around 1600 arrests accumulated through his lifetime (and no, that is not a typo).
In response to these, and similar criminals who act with complete disregard for the law, in 2016 Sacramento County implemented something called the “Chronic Nuisance Offender Program.” It is a program I take pride in, and I want to explain to you how it works.
Whenever our County law enforcement notice someone who is getting arrested over and over again, they keep track and as soon as they have been arrested for the tenth time in a one year period, they notify the District Attorney’s office. A District Attorney then offers the criminal a choice — they can either spend 120 days in jail, or they can spend 90 days in a drug or alcohol treatment program (90% of the people in this program are addicts). This produces one of two outcomes:
If they reject the treatment and spend the 120 days in jail, at a minimum the community can be at peace for a four month period. But in many cases, we are seeing a much greater impact than that.
Since these criminals are used to being able to get back onto the street the same day they are arrested, a four month stint in jail is a huge shock. Upon release, many times they either leave the area or clean up their act.
If they enter the drug/alcohol treatment program, we are getting the same benefits as the jail option since they are off the streets for 90 days, but with the added benefit of being able to attempt to treat one of the root causes for their criminal behavior. This only heightens the likelihood that we can positively impact their lives.
Neither I, nor the majority of my district, supported Proposition 47 because it makes it more difficult for our local law enforcement to keep us safe, but I am proud of what Sacramento County has done to think outside the box and work with what we have got.
Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost formerly served as a Citrus Heights councilwoman and currently represents District 4, which includes Citrus Heights. She will host her next community meeting in Citrus Heights at City Hall on Sept. 20, at 6 p.m.
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