Local District Attorneys upset by proposed change that relaxes certain prison sentences

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Governor Jerry Brown is pushing to give non-violent offenders a chance at early release. The controversial move is spurring a lot of reaction from local district attorneys.

District attorney's across the state gathered in Sacramento Wednesday where they blasted the ballot initiative. The governor said the proposal is supposed to help public safety-- something the DA's office says is simply not true. "The title didn't seem appropriate," said David Alavezos, Assistant District Attorney. "We don't see it as public safety."

Alavezos had few kind words to spare when Action News asked him about the governor's latest ballot initiative. Neither did many others. "We can't deal with it, we have just had enough, this cannot pass," said Sheriff Margaret Mims, Fresno County Sheriff.

From DA's to law enforcement officers many view the proposal to give non-violent offenders a chance at early release as problematic. "This is one more thing counties should not have to deal with, we had realignment, we had prop 47," said Sheriff Mims.

The initiative would allow the state parole board to consider early release as long as inmates complete a full sentence for their primary offense. "If somebody broke into 10 homes, they would be eligible for parole after just doing time on the first home," said Alavezos.

Wednesday afternoon several district attorney's across the state gathered to voice disapproval. Many believe the proposal will hurt crime victims who believe their perpetrators received a longer sentence than reality. "We're getting to a place now where a sentence isn't really worth the paper it was written on," said Marc Klass, Klaaskids Foundation.

The governor said the effort is partly a continuing strategy to reduce prison populations. But it's also meant to provide more chances at rehabilitation for inmates. Some argue there are better solutions. "Everything we've put in place to keep people safe is starting to go away, as a result, our crime rates are increasing. I think if it means that we need to build a prison we have to get that done," said Sheriff Mims.

The governor needs to gather more than 585,000 valid voter signatures before it can qualify for the statewide ballot.
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