New California bill would allow many serious criminals to skip jail time

If Ben Shapiro and other like-minded people are looking for yet another excuse to leave California, a new bill making its way through the Golden State legislature may do the trick. The legislators in Sacramento have been on a bit of a run lately, passing one bad bill after another, making the state a less-affordable place to live and compromising the safety of its citizens. Assembly Bill 3234 appears to fall into the latter category. If passed into law, it would allow people convicted of a wide range of fairly serious crimes to avoid jail time altogether and have their offenses wiped from their record if the judge in their case offers them a chance to complete a “diversionary program” aimed at rehabilitating them. (CBS News)

AB 3234 includes a long list of crimes where offenders could be offered diversion programs by judges to avoid a criminal record – and avoid jail time.

AB 3234 would allow charges to be dismissed after completion of the program, erasing criminal behavior from the record, lawyers say.

On the list of serious crimes: statutory rape, sexual assault on a minor 14 years or older, hate crime, elder abuse, and vehicular manslaughter.

For some reason, the CBS report focuses primarily on how the bill would affect DUI cases. But we’re not talking about simple instances of people failing a breathalyzer test at a checkpoint. They highlight instances where impaired drivers injure or kill someone in an accident. That’s certainly a serious matter, but AB 3234 would cover the resultant negligent homicide charge more than the DUI itself. California law enforcement officials are already unhappy with that aspect of the potential law, saying that if the driver’s record is wiped clean, the courts would be unable to establish a pattern of behavior if the suspect goes on to commit the same offense again.

But the bill reaches into far more serious crimes than DUI homicides. It would offer judges the option of granting the same level of forgiveness to those convicted of sexual assault on children, statutory rape, abuse of the elderly and similar crimes. The perpetrators convicted in those cases could agree to enter a rehabilitation program and, assuming they complete it, never spend a day in jail or even have the crimes show up on their record.

I’ll be among the first to agree that we have some laws on our books that can potentially put people in jail for things that might not merit such severe punishment and some of those are definitely worth a fresh look. But if you’ve reached the point where you are raping children or the elderly, you’ve pretty well demonstrated that we don’t need you wandering around on the streets with the law-abiding citizens out there. Further, you probably need some sort of severe punishment that will hopefully serve as a wake-up call and provide an incentive for you to mend your ways so you don’t wind up doing the same thing again.

It’s still possible that Governor Gavin Newsom could veto the bill when it reaches his desk, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up on that score. AB3234 is following a similar pattern we’ve been observing in California, New York and other blue states. Liberals have been pushing policies aimed at “emptying the jails” and mounting a battle against the perception that America is an “incarceration nation” with some sort of “school to prison pipeline” locking up as many citizens as possible. This supposed rehabilitation program is just more of the same, opening the door for violent criminals to make promises they may have no intention of keeping in exchange for the chance to avoid going to jail.

When their rehabilitation program is complete and the offense is wiped from their record, how are the prosecutors and the judge supposed to detect a pattern of recidivism if the convict turns around and does the same thing again? That’s an important consideration in the sentencing process. Removing that tool from the law enforcement process invites more criminals to treat the criminal justice system like a joke. And that’s precisely what it’s becoming as we see more and more laws like this one making it onto the books.