When I first saw the headline I thought it was about "Costa Rica". I suppose my brain could not conceive that a CALIFORNIA wealthy county like Contra Costa would no longer prosecute criminals.
The deputies in my county have never done more than take reports or write tickets, but I'm in Arizona.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
(04-21) 16:41 PDT MARTINEZ -- Misdemeanors such as assaults, thefts and burglaries will no longer be prosecuted in Contra Costa County because of budget cuts, the county's top prosecutor said Tuesday.
District Attorney Robert Kochly also said that beginning May 4, his office will no longer prosecute felony drug cases involving smaller amounts of narcotics. That means anyone caught with less than a gram of methamphetamine or cocaine, less than 0.5 grams of heroin and fewer than five pills of ecstasy, OxyContin or Vicodin won't be charged.
People who are suspected of misdemeanor drug crimes, break minor traffic laws, shoplift, trespass or commit misdemeanor vandalism will also be in the clear. Those crimes won't be prosecuted, either.
"We had to make very, very difficult choices, and we had to try to prioritize things. There are no good choices to be made here," said Kochly, a 35-year veteran prosecutor. "It's trying to choose the lesser of certain evils in deciding what we can and cannot do."
Barry Grove, a deputy district attorney who is president of the Contra Costa County District Attorneys Association, said, "There's no question that these kinds of crimes are going to drastically affect the quality of life for all the citizens of Contra Costa County."
The decision not to go after any perpetrators of certain offenses, Grove said, amounts to "holding up a sign and advertising to the criminal element to come to Contra Costa County, because we're no longer going to prosecute you."
Don't even bother submitting the cases, Kochly said Monday in a memo to the Contra Costa County Police Chiefs Association. "If they are submitted, they will be screened out by category by support staff and returned to your department without review by a deputy district attorney," he wrote.
Kochly wrote that he had long taken pride in saying that his office could do "more with less."
"Unfortunately, we have now reached a point where we cannot maintain the status quo," he said. "We will definitely be doing 'less with less' as a prosecution agency."
The changes are needed to help eliminate a $1.9 million budget deficit in the district attorney's office for this fiscal year. By month's end, six deputy district attorneys will be laid off, and 11 more will have to be let go by the end of the year, Kochly said.
The county Board of Supervisors originally proposed cutting the office's budget by $4.1 million. But after Kochly argued that such a reduction would hurt his ability to prosecute petty thefts, the board used sales-tax revenue to close the gap.
Supervisor John Gioia, who represents Richmond, said the list of crimes that Kochly says he won't prosecute is far longer now than what he told the board during its budget deliberations.
"I don't think it's a good idea for the chief prosecutor in the county to inform the public at large what cases they're not going to prosecute," Gioia said.
The district attorney's decision was upsetting news to Janet Kelleghan, an employee at Donna's Gifts in Concord, which has been victimized by thieves in the past.
"If they know they're not going to be prosecuted, there's going to be a lot more shoplifting," Kelleghan said. "I'd ask them to reconsider," she said of the district attorney's office.
Kochly said prosecutors will still consider charging suspects with certain misdemeanors, including domestic violence, driving under the influence, firearms offenses, vehicular manslaughter, sex crimes and assault with a deadly weapon.
An assault with a deadly weapon is a MISDEMEANOR in Contra Costa County?
In my previous post I wrote about our lack of access to government activities and accounting. It sure would be interesting to see how Contra Costa county has been spending its money.
MANY very wealthy lawyers and executives live in the rural areas of Contra Costa County. I was looking at real estate (for clients) in Blackhawk and other high end gated communities in the East Bay over 15 years ago, nothing was under a million back then.
Of course the cities can have the city attorneys prosecute and maybe the announcement is just a ploy to get more money -- as is mentioned in the video with the article.
If California had enough sense to not prosecute the drug "crimes", there'd be plenty of money for all kinds of services and the prisons would be half empty.
Maybe the residents of Contra Costa County ought to stop paying California and federal income tax and the businesses ought to withhold the sales tax.
What's the point of sending big bucks to Washington to have MOST of it wasted on attacks on innocent people while you can be robbed at your home or business and nobody gives a damn?
A recent Stockton article:
STOCKTON, CA - The Stockton man who wants to put a militia on the streets if police layoffs happen, said he's got 270 people signed on to help.
"They're going to have rifles, shotguns, pistols--whatever they get their hands on," said 66-year-old Alan Pettet. "We're not going to go out looking for trouble, but the first person who fires on us, will get a lot of return fire going is way."
Pettet said a militia is needed if the City of Stockton follows through with police layoffs that could come as early as this summer.
"If they don't lay off police, there won't be a militia," Pettet said. "But with the first person laid off July 1st, 270 men will be out on the street."
The idea of an armed militia patrolling Stockton streets doesn't have many supporters around the city.
"I think it's a terrible idea, that's all you need--a bunch of folks who aren't trained and not accountable to be running around with guns," said Andrea Pinkham.
"I think it would be crazy, like chaos, said Stan Shortt. "It wouldn't be good."
The Stockton Police Department is happy to have citizens who want to help make the city safer, but not in this fashion.
"What our officers do, is go through extensive training," police spokesperson Roseann Clark said. "They have 800 hours of academy time before hitting the streets."
Pettet doesn't seem bothered by the negative reaction. If police layoffs happen, he's planning to be busy up to three nights a week, patrolling the streets.
"We'll have four men in a car, and as many cars as we can put out there", said Pettet.
In another article I read that the militia wants to bill the city several hundred dollars for every hour of patrol and that's probably why there are so many "volunteers." Of course the city won't pay. If they WANT or CAN pay anyone, they just don't lay off the cops.
Stockton is a bit further east of Contra Costa County: http://california.hometownlocator.com/maps/countymap,cfips,013,c,contra%20costa.cfm
That's where the SUCKER BUYERS got their new tract homes in the 90s and probably until a few years ago -- because they could AFFORD to buy there. While Contra Costa county has BART to San Francisco, the suckers of Stockton, Modesto and Tracy got to enjoy 2-hour commutes when very lucky and there was no telling how long it would take to get home when there was an accident or even just a stalled car. I know people who commuted to San Francisco 5 days/week.
Obviously, those are the hardest hit areas and the $5/gallon gas prices last year made jobs in San Francisco not very lucrative.
From a story about Stockton in a TV show on foreclosures:
... Among the frustrated was one of the featured tour-bus riders: Marilyn Baxter, a 45-year-old single mom who runs an apartment complex in Stockton and wants to get out of her three-bedroom unit there into a home for her and son Michael, 9.
In the first show, she is shown worrying about prices and at times hoping to bid on a few houses that she really liked. She is filmed making an offer with no word back from the owner.
Actually, she made five offers on the day it was filmed - and nothing.
She did end up getting a house, though. One that unexpectedly popped up because it fell out of a deal before escrow closed, and she jumped at the owner's offer to sell to her.
Four bedrooms and a huge game room in a 3,446-square-foot house for $269,900. That's less than half of the original price for the 3-year-old house.
"I'm ecstatic," Baxter said. "If it wasn't now, it would have never been. The way the market was, I never would have been able to buy a home." ...
This woman ought to be the dictionary definition for STUPID. Ms. Baxter, what's wrong with a 1,200 sqft house for $100,000?
A single mother and her 9-yr old boy need a 3,500 sq ft house.
I hope she can afford to pay for private security. Ms. Baxter is a sitting duck in that house and of course she is a PRIME candidate to end up in foreclosure. 45 years old and so incredibly stupid.
Can you imagine how many THOUSANDS she will spend on furniture?
I'm just sorry for her kid.