California

California lawmakers want to remove the penalty for possessing a firearm during crime, other ‘sentence enhancements’

California lawmakers want to remove the penalty for
possessing a firearm during crime, other ‘sentence
enhancements’ 1

CALIFORNIA – Reportedly, Democratic lawmakers in California are seeking to either dramatically reduce, or outright eliminate, certain sentencing enhancements for crimes committed while using a firearm.

While this effort failed to advance through the legislature on May 20th, the proponents behind this effort are intent on moving forward to see this legislation to one day come to light.

Greg Fidell, who serves as the policy manager of Initiate Justice, lamented the fact that AB 1509 did not manage to make it through the Appropriations Committee earlier in May:

“AB 1509 was held in the Appropriations committee and will not move forward this year. This is very painful – but we will be back stronger next year. I would like to apologize to all the families and currently incarcerated people who were counting on this. I’m sorry. Truly.”

There apparently were some Democratic state lawmakers who were backing what was known as the Anti-Racism Sentencing Reform Act, which the act meant to reduce the penalization associated with crimes that were subject to sentencing enhancements – such as ones committed with firearms.

Apparently, there is a perception that sentencing enhancements are somehow racist considering that figures show 89% of the approximately 40,000 inmates serving prison sentences with gun enhancements in California are people of color.

With respect to California, possession of a firearm while committing a serious crime, like attempted murder or robbery, means an offender could receive an additional 10 years on top of their sentence for whatever the underlying crime is.

If said firearm is fired during the commission of a crime then the sentencing enhancement could add 20 years on top of an underlying offense, if someone is injured by a firearm – then it could be an additional 25 years to life.

What the failed bill would have accomplished is reducing those sentencing enhancements to a term of an additional one, two or three years maximum – while also repealing gun enhancements for certain lesser crimes.

Restore Justice executive director Jobi Cates alleges that longer sentences for certain offenses don’t “deter crime”:

“There’s ample research that long sentences don’t deter crime. It’s actually the swiftness and the surety of consequences that deters crime, not the length of the sentence.”

“The length of the sentence just costs the state and communities and families hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars and destroys lives. It doesn’t make us safer. It’s a myth.”

Kent Scheidegger, who serves as the legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, refutes that notion posed by Cates, pointing out the obvious that longer sentences for offenders does improve public safety by removing those offenders from the public for an extended period of time:

“The reason they should be sentenced more severely is the use of the gun greatly increases the danger that someone’s actually going to be killed.”

“Certainly a longer sentence for a habitual criminal does improve public safety by preventing them from committing crimes during the time of the sentence.”

Democrat Alex Lee, the main sponsor of the failed bill, claimed that AB 1509 “is about undoing failed policies of systemic racism in our justice system that have led to over incarceration.”

Laurie Palmer, who founded the community group Go Get Your Kid after her son was shot, notes that while some sentences for youthful offenders might be a little egregious – she is also highly critical of the idea of reducing potential 25-year sentences to 1-3 years:

“Reducing a 25-year sentence to one, two or three years – I don’t think so. But 25, that’s too much for some, they’re just kids.”

What Palmer found most troubling of this proposed legislation was the fact that had the legislation passed, then a whole lot of violent offenders would have been walking out of prison at once:

“We already have pretty violent communities right now. If you’re talking about just releasing a whole bunch of violent criminals like right now — no, no, no, no. That ain’t going to go well.”

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In other news from California relating to gun crime, the man who reportedly killed a Stockton Police officer earlier in May happened to be a paroled felon. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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STOCKTON, CA – The now-deceased suspect authorities say killed Stockton Police Officer Jimmy Inn earlier in May was reportedly out on parole at the time of the fatal shooting.

Authorities say that Officer Inn was responding to a domestic violence call at a residence located within the 4400 block of La Cresta Way on May 11th when the fatal shooting occurred.

Officer Inn was reportedly approaching the front door of the residence when the suspect, identified as 30-year-old Lance Lowe, opened fire – fatally striking the officer.

Shortly thereafter, Officer Pancho Freer had responded to the scene and exchanged gunfire with Lowe, according to officials. The suspect was said to have retreated back into the residence, later reemerging with his 8-year-old son that he was reportedly strangling.

Police say that a bystander had tackled Lowe and rescued the child. Officer Freer opened fire on Lowe again, which the suspect was said to have later died at the hospital from the sustained gunshot wound.

Hours after the fatal shooting, Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones stated the following about the incident:

“It was a violent, blatant and very sudden assault on our police officer.”

While the suspect is deceased, reports have surfaced showing that Lowe had been granted parole back in April of 2020.

Lowe had been given a five-year sentence out of Los Angeles County back in March of 2018 for grand theft auto with use of a firearm.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation records showed that Lowe had been given 820 pre-sentencing credits and 37 post-sentencing credits, which afforded his release back in April of 2020.

However, officials say that Lowe did serve his full sentence as prescribed by law, as the pre-sentencing credits were doled out due to Lowe having served time in jail while awaiting trial.

Officer Inn’s father, Phalyl Lee Inn, expressed feelings of wishing he could trade places with his son:

“I’d rather it would’ve been me and not my son because I’m older, and he had so much ahead of him.”

Phalyl Lee would like to see some changes within the Stockton Police protocols for officers responding to calls, specifically regarding how quickly additional officers can arrive on a call such as the one where his son was killed:

“Modify maybe, even though it might take a minute for another officer to arrive, to make sure that it’s more secure, maybe that the city might have to take that as consideration.”

The widow of the fallen officer, Tela Inn, says that the loss of her husband is still surreal:

“I just feel like I’m in a fog. It doesn’t feel real. They brought his car home last night and I saw it parked in the garage, but I knew he wasn’t going to be inside the house.”

Officer Inn served the Stockton Police since December of 2015, serving as a member of the department’s honor guard and assigned to the filed operations division.

He is survived by his wife, a 7-month-old son and his two stepchildren.

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