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April 13, 2013
Another View: Sensible reforms can improve realignment

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(April 13 -- By Connie Conway and Jim Nielsen, Special to The Bee)

A sleeping girl kidnapped from her own room in the middle of the night. A known sex offender, arrested nearly two dozen times since last summer, was caught again near a field where children were Easter egg hunting. Suspects were arrested in a gang-related torture killing that could be the largest murder trial in Santa Barbara County history.

The crimes listed above are ripped from headlines across the state just within the last few weeks. All of these heinous acts have one thing in common: The suspects were all released onto our streets with little or no supervision due to Gov. Jerry Brown's public safety realignment, known as Assembly Bill 109.

In the editorial "Enough with all the scare tactics on public safety 'realignment' " (April 7), The Bee's editorial board falsely calls the fact that we are drawing attention to these crimes as "scare tactics." However, each story has been independently reported by the media and each example shows the revolving door of crime AB 109 has created.

It's no secret that Republicans strongly opposed the governor's public safety realignment. However, we recognize that it's the law, and we have put forward a number of narrowly crafted, sensible solutions to improve this law. In fact, there have been a number of bills introduced on both sides of the aisle to reform realignment. The Republican proposals would:

• Ensure that habitual felons serve their time in state prison and that sex offenders and other dangerous criminals who violate parole are returned to prison.

• Help law enforcement keep closer tabs on dangerous offenders out on the streets.

• Increase penalties against criminals who shouldn't have guns.

• Provide funding fairness for local governments.

If there's one thing that the almost daily barrage of news stories pointing out the failure of realignment has demonstrated, it is the fact that crime victims and law enforcement officials alike are calling for AB 109 changes.

It's unfortunate that The Bee has ignored this reality and is trying to lull its readers into a false sense of complacency that puts them in peril of being victimized.

Assemblywoman Connie Conway, R-Tulare, is the Assembly Republican leader who represents the 26th District. State Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, represents the 4th District.

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