In the past we have written about how certain states (i.e. California) are rethinking who belongs behind bars. Severe overpopulation problems across the United States stem from locking up hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders. With a number of states legalizing the use of marijuana, it might mean that several nonviolent offenders could be released from prison early. Naturally, the ensuing paradigm shift regarding the penal system begs the question, what is a violent crime?
Last November, Californians voted “yes” on Proposition 57. The legislation aimed to increase parole and good behavior opportunities for nonviolent felons and gave judges the power to decide which minors would be tried as adults, rather than prosecutors.
As you can probably imagine, a number of lawmakers and victims are concerned that those who belong in prison might get out and potentially hurt others. State prosecutors complain that California’s violent felony list is short, which could result dangerous prisoners being set free, The Los Angeles Times reports. State Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) recently filed a bill to reclassify more than 20 offenses, re-designating them as violent felonies.
“There are many of them that really need a second thought,” she said. “If you put yourself in the position of a victim in any one of those crimes, you will say, ‘That was violent because that affected me physically and emotionally.’”
In deciding what is a violent offense, presumably lawmakers must by law rely on the violent felony penal code of 1976. While the list has been added to over the years, missing from it are some rape crimes and domestic violence, according to the article. In an attempt to fill in some of the glaring omissions from the violent crimes list, Governor Jerry Brown excluded all sex offenders from early parole consideration, despite how their crimes were designated.
Offenses that may be re-designated as violent offenses, include:
- Certain Rape Crimes
- Human Trafficking Involving Minors
- Vehicular Manslaughter
- Solicitation of Murder
- Child Abduction for Prostitution
- Crimes Against the Elderly
- Animal Cruelty
The distinction between violent and nonviolent crimes is an important topic, one that we will continue to follow. So, remember to stay tuned…in the meantime, if you live in Southern California and need a criminal defense attorney, please feel free to contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower.