Peace Officer Unions Back McDonnell for Sheriff….CA Kids May Face Mandatory Minimums….State Starting Early Release of Elderly and Sick Inmates…and MoreJune 17th, 2014 by Taylor Walker
GROUP OF LAW ENFORCEMENT UNIONS TO ANNOUNCE SUPPORT OF JIM MCDONNELL FOR LA SHERIFF
Today, a number of law enforcement unions will be announcing their unified endorsement of Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell for the office of Sheriff of LA County. Representatives from the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS), the LA County Professional Peace Officer Association (PPOA), Probation Officers, AFSCME Local 685, the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL), and the Long Beach Police Officers Association will gather at a press conference at 10:30a.m., at the ALADS offices in Monterey Park.
PPOA announced their endorsement last Thursday afternoon, and many were waiting to see what ALADS would do, as both PPOA and ALADS had declined to endorse anyone during the primary election. A source close to the unions said that the LAPPL and the Long Beach Police Officers Association had been interested in endorsing McDonnell during the primary, but due to something called “the hometown rule” they had to wait until the unions to which LASD personnel belong (ALADS and PPOA) made their moves.
Thus far, no one has announced that they will be giving money along with their endorsement, but that may (or may not) come later.
CALIFORNIA BILL WOULD INFLICT HARMFUL NEW MANDATORY MINIMUMS ON KIDS IN THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM
A California bill that would impose the first ever mandatory minimum sentences in the state’s juvenile justice system, SB 838, is currently making its way through California legislature. The bill, authored by Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), directed at kids convicted of certain sex offenses, would eliminate judges’ discretion and ability to choose community-based rehabilitative options, and replace it with mandatory incarceration.
The California Senate has unanimously passed the bill, and today (Tuesday), the Assembly Public Safety Committee will vote on the measure. (And we at WLA will be keeping an eye on it.)
The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice has more on the bill (and why they are opposing it). Here’s a clip:
Mandatory minimums violate the foundational principles of the juvenile justice system. If SB 838 becomes law and introduces mandatory minimum sentences into the juvenile justice system, the consequences would be significant for California’s youth. The bill would upend a system grounded in rehabilitation — and the understanding that young people can change — and replace it with one focused on retribution and punishment for California’s most troubled and vulnerable youth.
Mandatory minimums do not prevent crime. Research on mandatory minimum sentencing schemes across the nation has failed to find evidence that they have reduced crime — but substantial evidence that they have driven the nation’s skyrocketing incarceration rates, exacerbated racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and dramatically increased the length of prison sentences. SB 838 would replicate these same failed policies for California’s youth, at great public expense.
STATE TO BEGIN EARLY RELEASE OF CERTAIN ELDERLY INMATES, TRANSFER OF SERIOUSLY ILL INMATES TO HEALTH CARE FACILITIES
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has announced the state will commence with the early release of elderly and seriously ill prisoners who meet certain requirements to either parole or nursing facilities. The move is part of the state’s ongoing efforts to comply with a federal order to ease prison overcrowding. (Backstory here.)
The LA Times’ Paige St. John has the story. Here’s a clip:
Inmates who are over 60 and have spent at least 25 years in prison will be eligible for release if they are not sentenced to death or serving life without parole sentences. Those hearings are to begin in October, board executives said.
Prisoners whose health conditions require they receive skilled nursing care will also be eligible to be moved to health care or nursing facilities — but if they recover they face a return trip to prison. Hearings under the new rules, which reflect an expansion of existing medical parole, are to begin by July 1, a board attorney said.
MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING FOR PEACE OFFICERS IS A BIG STEP, BUT NOT A CURE-ALL
Ventura County law enforcement officers have been receiving comprehensive training in how to deal with the mentally ill, and thus far, it’s making a big difference. Experts say that law enforcement mental health training offerings like Ventura County’s “Crisis Intervention Team” program can help officers prevent tense encounters with the mentally ill from escalating unnecessarily.
Currently, 72% of Ventura officers have received 40 hours of instruction in handling situations involving people with mental disorders. While this is a welcome step in the right direction, in Ventura and other counties (cough, Los Angeles, cough), often the training does not extend to jails, prisons, and other agencies where things can fall apart.
KPCC’s Stephanie O’Neill has the story. Here’s a clip:
Debbie is a Ventura County mother of a 23-year-old son diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At times his condition becomes so severe that he gets delusional and requires hospitalization.
“He doesn’t understand that he’s ill and that he needs help,” Debbie says. “He thinks he’s fine.”
Debbie, who asked that her last name be withheld for privacy reasons, says when that happens, she calls the sheriff’s department for help – as she did earlier this year. Their response, she says, was heartening.
“The police officers…were so great, because they kept telling him, ‘You’re not in trouble, we’re here to help you,’ ” she says. “So they weren’t threatening; they didn’t scare him. It stayed really, really calm.”
And that allowed the deputies to take Debbie’s son to the county psychiatric hospital for emergency observation without incident.
“As far as a bad experience goes, it was as good a bad experience as was possible in this situation,” she says.
The responding deputies included several who had received 40 hours of training in handling the mentally ill through Ventura County’s “Crisis Intervention Team” program. The training is based on a renowned model started in Memphis, Tennessee in 1988 that is now taught worldwide.
Tragedies such as the Isla Vista massacre and the Kelly Thomas case in Orange County have highlighted the need for improved training for law enforcement personnel who come into contact with the mentally ill.
So far, 72 percent of all law enforcement officers have completed the Crisis Intervention Team training in Ventura County, says Kiran Sahota, who oversees the program for the county.
“The idea is to hopefully help to deescalate and slow down the situation,” Sahota says. “And sometimes by just knowing ahead of time that (law enforcement officers) are going to be listening and spending a little extra time, it really can defuse a situation.”
But even in Ventura County, breakdowns can happen…
Read the rest.