On Tuesday evening the LAPPL—the LAPD’s Union—sent around a falsehood-ridden statement urging its more than 9,900 members to contact Governor Jerry Brown and ask him to veto the recently passed SB 9, the bill that, if enacted into law, will mean that some of those who were given life sentences without the possibility of parole when they were juveniles as young as 14-years-old, will now be able to eventually apply to have a court review their sentences, which may or may not result in the possibility of one day being paroled.
In other words, the union didn’t just oppose the legislation in their message (a stance with which we would vehemently disagree, but could at least understand), they lied shamelessly about why their members ought to actively try to get the governor to veto it.
The biggest and baddest lie is trumpeted in the sample letter the union proposed that LAPD members send to Brown where they wrote that, if the bill was signed into law, dangerous cop killers could be let out.
This bill will allow murderers (juveniles at the time they committed their crimes and sentenced to life without parole) who killed police officers to ask the court for a resentence.
In their cheerleading message that went out Tuesday night, the LAPPL even went even further and named a specific inmate who had murdered a police officer as a potential parolee under the bill:
People like Jimmy Siackasorn, a dangerous felon who was sentenced to life in prison for the 2007 murder of Sacramento County Sheriff’s Detective Vu Nguyen
The above would naturally concern cops and their families—if it were in any way true.
But it isn’t. Not a word of it.
SB 9 specifically excludes anyone who either tortured their victims or killed a peace officer or a firefighter. Those people stay locked up. Period. Full stop. No exceptions.
But why bother with pesky facts when inflammatory exaggerations and outright falsities work so much better?
(You can read the wording for yourself in the most recently amended version of the bill here.)
LAPPL’s letter to its members also says:
All of these criminals were convicted of first-degree murder, or multiple murders, with special circumstances.
No, that isn’t true either.
As Human Rights Watch has pointed out, approximately 45 percent of youth offenders serving life without parole were convicted of murder but were not the ones to actually commit the murder. Yet kids can be convicted and sentenced to life-without-parole under California’s felony murder statute, which holds someone responsible for a murder that occurs as part of a felony, even the kid didn’t plan or expect a murder to occur.
That means that the tragically foolish fifteen-year-old who stayed in the car while a 21-year-old homeboy jumped out and ran down the street and shot someone, can go away for life too.
Nationally, 59 percent of juveniles sentenced to life without parole are first-time offenders—without a single crime on a juvenile court record.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
This is so very wearisome and infuriating.
Here’s what Byron Williams of the Oakland Tribune wrote about SB 9 last summer, after it had been once again defeated by exactly this kind of fear-mongering and illogic.
Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, was hardly an apologist for heinous crimes committed by youth. It merely would have given offenders sentenced as minors to life without parole a chance to request a parole hearing.
Beyond the cacophony, fear and emotion that drive so much of the state’s reactionary public policy, SB9 would have returned a small measure of sanity to the corrections system.
Supported by child advocates, mental-health professionals and civil-rights groups, the legislation would have provided an opportunity, after many years of incarceration, for review and resentencing for youths sentenced to life without parole.
It called for specific criteria and an intense, three-part review process that would result in the possibility of a lesser sentence for those offenders who have matured and proven themselves to have changed.
Moreover, it would have curbed the alarming trend of the state locking up minors and throwing away the key.
California is second only to Pennsylvania as the state with the most youth serving life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The governor’s a very, very smart guy. Let us just hope that he doesn’t fall for the union’s mendacious attempt to bully him into rejecting a law that is composed out of decency and common sense.
If he capitulates to the LAPPL’s irrational wishes—which benefit exactly nobody, not cops, and not public safety—our collective decency will be diminished.