10 Crimes that Will Now Land You in Prison Instead of Jail

Monday, July 02, 2012
Crowded gymnasium at San Quentin Prison. (photo: Patrick Tehan, San Jose Mercury News)

It didn’t take long for astute state officials to determine that breaking into a home to seduce a child should not be classified a nonviolent crime, and so last week Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill reversing 10 changes like that made in October to facilitate the state downsizing its prison population.

Under orders from the U.S. Supreme Court to reduce its prison population to a manageable level, the state realigned its penal system last year shifting thousands of inmates from prisons to jails. Local officials were assured that this change would not result in violent offenders coming their way but when the details became known, questions were raised about a couple dozen of the determinations, and the Legislature reversed 10 of them.

“We're getting smarter on crime so we can better invest limited resources on education rather than corrections,” said state Senator Mark Leno.

The realignment will roll out over three years and reduce the Corrections budget from 9.4% of the state’s total budget to 7.5%. As of November 2011, California prisons had 143,643 inmates, around 70% more than the 84,130 they were designed to hold. The court told them to reduce the population by more than 30,000.  

From now on, these offenses are, indeed, violent crimes:

·     Breaking and entering to seduce a child.

·     Using harmful material to seduce a child.

·     Soliciting various forceful sex offenses.

·     Certain repeated sex offenses with children.

·     Selling drugs to a child in a park.

·     Seriously injuring a peace officer during an escape.

·     Causing serious injury with a weapon while resisting arrest.

·     Escaping from a mental hospital.

·     Evading police by driving the wrong way on a highway.

·     Possession of body armor.

The legislation also reclassified four jail offenses as worthy of prison sentences.

·     Possession of explosive substances or a dirk or dagger.

·     Possession of various exotic weapons like guns or swords hidden in walking canes, belt buckles, lipstick cases, wallets or writing pens.

·     Check fraud.

·     Electronically defrauding the CalFresh food stamp program of more than $2.5 million.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Crimes Shifting between Prisons and Jails (Sacramento Bee)

Calif. Shuffles Crimes under Inmate-Crowding Law (by Don Thompson, Associated Press)

California Prisons Detail Plan to Downsize, Cut Costs (by Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times)

CDCR Releases a Plan to Cut Billions in Prison Spending and Meet Federal Court Mandates (Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

ACLU Is Critical of State Prison Realignment (by Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times)

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