Realignment’s Predictably Negative Impact On Anaheim

EDITOR’S NOTE: I originally posted this on September 24, but the item in question — the Anaheim Police Department’s report on the impacts of Gov. Brown’s “re-alignment” policy — was continued to tonight’s council meeting.

The prison realignment policy implemented by Gov. Jerry Brown two years ago is a terrible policy the only sure consequence of which — other than complying with court-ordered reduction in the state prison population — is increased crime. When thousands of criminals are released back among the law-abiding, they will commit crimes against the law-abiding.

On tonight’s Anaheim City Council agenda is a report from the Anaheim Police Department on the impact of realignment on Anaheim. Not surprisingly, the impact has been an increase in crime.

The statistical data provided suggests a strong correlation between the program, repeat offenses and an increase in criminal activity in the City of Anaheim. Further, the data concerning the PCS probationers released in Anaheim show the increased local burden of offender supervision, housing and rehabilitation created by the program, along with its potential impacts on the community. For example, after a subject has been arrested on a new charge while under the PCS Program, the bill allows release of that subject into our community to re-offend at a time when jail overcrowding forces low bail schedules and even the release of prisoners with a citation. An example of this was an Anaheim PCS probationer who was discharged from supervision in December of 2012. After discharge from supervision, the subject committed a number of serious crimes in the three months following his discharge. This subject was involved in an Anaheim Police Department vehicle pursuit and subsequently arrested with ammunition inside his vehicle. After he was released on bail from that charge, he was arrested a short time later for possession of a half-pound of methamphetamine and a firearm. After his second release, the subject was again arrested in Anaheim for having been found to be in possession of two firearms and a substantial amount of methamphetamine.

Looking specifically at the impact to the City of Anaheim, 212 of the 265 Anaheim PCS probationers have been arrested a total of 426 times through July 2013, with 39% being repeat offenders. In 2012, four (4) homicides, or 26% of all homicides that year were committed by PCS probationers in the City of Anaheim. In one instance, a subject on PCS was arrested last year for shooting and killing two adult males in a vehicle in the City of Anaheim. Another homicide involved a PCS probationer who did not reside in the City of Anaheim, but who came to the city and killed an Anaheim resident. In August 2013, an Anaheim PCS probationer was arrested for the shooting and killing of another Anaheim resident. These are just a few examples of the most serious and violent crimes committed by PCS offenders.

Another eye-popping statistic from the report:  an 40.1% increase in stolen vehicles (from 1817 to 2546) in the 21 months after realignment began.

It’s no coincidence that when more repeat criminal offenders were locked up following the passage of three Strikes, we experienced a decline in crime. It was not the only factor, but a significant one.

So, someone tell me again that the biggest law enforcement issues in Anaheim are the phatom one of “police brutality and racism,” as Donna Acevedo and Genevieve Huizar claimed in their missive calling for a commemoration of the July 2012 riot.

Judging by the APD’s realignment report, I don’t think it is police in Anaheim who need more oversight.

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  1. I’m still perplexed as to how Brown got elected. He screwed CA the first time an admitted he had NO plan!

  2. He got elected by young democrats who were kids when he screwed us over the first time They recognized his name and did no real research.. The lazy generation.

  3. Thanks to the lazy generation.

  4. As a member of that so called “lazy generation”, thank you for writing about the bizzarely named realignment. It is one of the most profound and consequential issues of our time. One that is being utterly ignored by pols and populous alike.
    But let us not forget that we are in the position we are in today thanks to the “care-free generation” (aka, the baby-boomers).
    During the 60s they embraced an absurd attitude towards crime. Every guy who robbed a liqueur store was actually just fighting the system, a Che Gueverra in the making. The results were terrible and American cities in the 70s were not nice places to live as crime was out of control.
    In the next two decades the kids sobered up and decided to embark on an incarceration binge. And despite the attempts to find otherwise by liberal intellectuals, this was hugely effective in bringing down crime rates. New York City is the outstanding example of how the process played out.
    The problem was that this was enormously expensive. The “care-free generation” never considered whether it could be financially sustained. (Hardly the only incident of such irresponsibly). After-all, it was the 80s and 90s and good times would last forever.
    Well since 2008, states and municipalities have been under enormous pressure to lower costs. Moreover, law and order issues don’t have the bite they once had because the incarceration binge was so effective in bringing down crime. You see this everywhere, on the left (stop and frisk) and right (libertarianism generally).
    With taxes already already set to increase in the years to come, the people will not, can’t, stomach the price of our current levels of incarceration. Meaning, more people likely to commit crimes will be on the street in the decade to come. Unfortunatly, when crime rates REALLY start to go up, we will still be paying for the “care-free generation’s” fix, and a government remedy will largely be unavailable.
    The ordinance passed last night criminalizing the homeless only makes the situation more difficult. The “lazy generation” has heavy lifting in its future.

  5. Matthew Cunningham

    “The ordinance passed last night criminalizing the homeless only makes the situation more difficult.”

    I have to disagree with you that the anti-camping ordinance “criminalizes” homelessness. That ridiculous and inflammatory term is classic left-wing language manipulation (and I am not saying you are left-wing; I don’t know your political leanings. That is the term the ACLU has coined for these ordinances).

    What this ordinance does is preserve public parks for the public to use and enjoy. It does this by prohibiting activities that conflict with that purpose. It would be unjust for the city to standby and deny the public the use of these parks – not too mention allowing dangerous activities to take root at their doorstep — by allowing homeless encampments in public parks.

    • Amen.

      • I just used that term, criminalizing, because I had already gone on for so long. The definition is to murky to have a debate over, I agree.

    • Matt!!! You are playing the Newt Gingrich to my Paul Ryan; throwing me under the boss when I’m just trying to talk about the hard issues. Yes, the ordinance passed last night will make the problem you purportedly care about worse. Whether you see it as criminalizing (or further criminalizing) the homeless or not, is between you and your maker and is a pointless debate. I recommend you incur a fine and refuse to pay. See how much that ends up costing THE STATE… From personnel to electricity. The future of our country will turn on whether we can face these unpleasant facts.

  6. gabriel san roman

    So a homeless person with his personals and a sleeping bag can be about about their business today in a public space, but when the ordinance goes into effect, that same person doing the very same thing can be penalized by unaffordable fines that will turn into warrants that will turn into jail time. Yeah, no criminalization there!

    • Matthew Cunningham

      It’s an infraction, Gabriel, not a misdemeanor. It applies to specific activities, not a person’s state of being. It applies to everyone, not just the homeless.

      The city has every right to enact an ordinance that preserves a public park for its intended us. That’s what this ordinance does. Ending homelessness is not the duty or responsibility of the City of Anaheim. Ensuring the public can use Anaheim’s public parks is.

      • “Ending homelessness is not the duty or responsibility of the City of Anaheim.”

        Say what?

        I think you meant exclusive duty or responsibility. You’re not actually trying to claim that municipal government has no role to play in eliminating abject poverty are you?

        • Matthew Cunningham

          Local government has a role to play insofar as meeting its responsibilities and acting — within its legitimate sphere of action — to foster conditions that lead to reduced poverty.

          • OK, give us a glimpse into what its legitimate sphere of action looks like.

            Is funding a homeless shelter a bridge too far?

            Are we only talking about providing minimal conditions to enable the private sector to do the entirely of the work?

            What action should the public expect the council to follow with after taking an active step to curb the supply of space for the homeless by instituting a penalty without addressing the demand? Is the $40k to replace the supply adequate atonement? Should it matter that the replaced supply is in another city? Should Anaheim be doing more than say Fullerton, the host of the shelter that Anaheim is paying to house its homeless?

            I applaud the council for not making homelessness a misdemeanor, but clearly there’s more to be done in this space. Stating this is about balancing the rights of the whole public to engage in public space is a convenient way to incompletely address the issue.

            I’m glad to see this blog is not perpetuating the false belief that municipal government’s proper role is to defer solutions to homelessness and poverty to the private sector. That seems to be a difficult ideological sin to overcome with neighboring cities.

            • Matthew Cunningham


              It is not the responsibility of the city to meet the “demand” by the homeless for a place to camp. Those individuals were illegally squatting on public property. Anaheim doesn’t have an obligation to provide them with some place else to go after clearing out the tent city.

              This should primarily be the realm of the charitable sector. Charities are much better at this than government. Government can engineer freeways and roads that move people and goods from Point A to Point B. Homelessness is a much more complex problem that involves, to a significant degree, the engineering of people’s souls.

              The needs of someone who is homeless due to circumstances beyond their control is much more tractable and entails a different solution than those who are homeless because they’;re addicted to drugs or alcohol, or are mentally ill, or simply would rather be homeless than a productive member of society.

              Government has a poor track record when it comes to solving social problems that are as much moral, spiritual and psychological as they are material.

              The Orange County Rescue Mission in Tustin is about as good an example of combating homelessness as i know of in Orange County. It is located in re-furbished barracks on the old Tustin Marine Corps Air Station. I don’t recall whether or not the Rescue Mission was given the facility or purchased it, but if the former than I think that would be an example of how government can lend a hand in reducing homelessness because it mostly entails getting out of the way.

              • So you endorse or oppose the council spending $40k to contract a private company to run a public shelter?

                • Matthew Cunningham

                  I think that is fine. Mercy House is very good.

                  • I would hope that the City of Anaheim finds a way to play a leadership role in enabling Mercy House to deliver its mission in a permanent fashion. This vote ought to catalyze path forward.

                • The $40K was to fund keeping the Armory open earlier in the year to provide secure and safe shelter for homeless and not just to eliminate camping in parks. It was passed by the council unanimously and matched by the City of Fullerton. On one hand you seem to be criticizing the city for doing too little and above for doing to much – please enlighten us with your wisdom on this issue. What is the perfect approach? So tired of people taking pot shots from behind a computer screen and offering nothing constructive. And while you are at it, are you personally living across the street from a park overrun by homeless in tents – having sex and using drugs in front of your children? Leaving their paraphernalia everywhere that small kids will pick it up? The self righteous brigade has been out in force on this issue but I highly doubt they have any real firsthand experience dealing with these issues or even helping in any compassionate way to address homelessness in our county. If that’s not the case, please share and I’ll be the first one to apologize and thank you for your positive advice and service to those in need.

                  • Who, me? I don’t live across the street from a situation you describe, but if you’re really witnessing sex or drug use in public, that’s grounds for a felony and those folks shouldn’t be cited for camping. I did have to close a library though. That wasn’t fun.

                    I don’t think it’s fair to say I was stating the city is doing too much– that’s really an attempt to get Matt to clarify what “doing too much” is. I’d like to see Anaheim take a leadership role in siting a permanent shelter, which its neighbors don’t seem to have the stomach to follow through with.

                    • Anaheim is working very closely with the county on finding a permanent location and has been for a couple of years. Supervisor Shawn Nelson, Karen Roeper from the county and others serving the county’s homeless task force have been engaged with members of the council – I believe MPT Eastman and CM Murray have been serving on that task force. The trouble is finding a place that is large enough, with transit access and that the County can afford. Anaheim has offered suggestions but unfortunately, the properties were not accepted as a good fit. Again, my point is that if folks are not aware of all the facts, perhaps its best to reserve judgement and ask questions first.

                    • And the police do interevene but the volume is significant. The tents are attracting and enabling this criminal behavior and by eliminating the tents, the city is taking a proactive step to cut off one of the primary sources of this problem in our parks and surrounding neighborhoods.

  7. “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” — Maybe Jesus was talking about Anaheim! “In God We Trust”

  8. First – the people who are weighing in on this issue above clearly do not live on the periphery of La Palma Park where the homeless issue is impacting not just residents and children in our park but the private property of residents who find homeless in their unlocked cars sleeping, going through their dumpsters and defecating in our alleys. Perhaps anyone commenting here should visit the conditions we are living with, help pick up the needles in public restrooms and witness the prostitution, pot smoking, and filthy conditions of the playground areas before resulting to the righteous commentary. Also, the City Council committed to addressing the homeless issue in a very compassionate way that is dedicated to finding a permanent solution – the Mayor has called it Coming Home Anaheim – and will be focused on finding a permanent location that includes many services to assist this population that is much more safe, sanitary and appropriate than the bury our heads in the sand and set up tents approach that is supported be the advocate commentators on this page. In the interim, the Council matched Fullerton’s funding to open the armory early so there is a safe place to sleep, and has invested in new restrooms and agreements/funding for Mercy House to provide secure storage for private property of homeless in our community. Why don’t some of you get informed before speaking – especially those who clearly have no understanding of how difficult this issue has been for our community.

    • Yes, and only union members should be part of the discussion over their pay and pensions because it has nothing to do with the rest of us!

      • Matthew Cunningham


        Your analogy is flawed because government union member pay and pensions are funded by the taxpayers, so of course those have something to do with us.

        All the talk about being “compassionate” toward the homeless is all very well and good, but the fact is the homeless camp in La Palma Park is having a harmful impact on those who live near the park, and those who wish the use the park. The city’s first obligation is to them, not to transients who have set up camp in La Palma Park.

        Those residents and park users should not have to wait until homelessness is “solved” to see an end to bums going to bathroom in their alleyways and shooting up in the park.

        • A government program like this is filled with hidden costs that fall on us ALL. If we are serious about spending, we need to think things through, and not accept the bill provided by the government. But to your point… We ALL need to consider the particular interests of the people most impacted. Balence… I’d just like to see that balancing to be more explicit and transparent.

          • Matthew Cunningham

            I’m still not sure what new government program to which you are referring. If you mean the camping ordinance, that’s not a program.

            If you mean the $40,000 to Mercy House, that’s not very much money.

            • He means the cost to enforce the law.

              Cops + city attorney + judge + jailer + food + medical + dental = A LOT.

              When the notice to appear turns into a bench warrant, these things get expensive. Ditto for translating serving time en lieu of paying a fine.

              • Yes, exactly. Anything the government spends money on is a government program. I’m sorry, but this is what is wrong with the GOP, we don’t appreciate the principles behind the rhetoric.

  9. Well said, PC.

  10. As usual, scratch a conservative, find a con man. Crime in Anaheim CA in 2005 Anaheim, CA Count 10murder 81rape 554robbery 971assault 1,929burglary 5,537theft 2,046vehicle theft 79arson

    2012 Anaheim, CA Count 15murder 82rape 440robbery 742assault 1,605burglary 7,025theft 1,440vehicle theft 27arson

    In all but three categories Anaheim has less crime than in 2005. And one of those is an increase of 1. The crime index for Anaheim is down nearly 200 points since 2005. HUGE drops in vehicle theft, arson, assault and burglary.

    So your whole claim is based on baloney.

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