Relatives of two law enforcement officers who were recently gunned down in Southern California added their voices to the opposition of Proposition 57, which would provide parole opportunities for “non-violent” offenders.
Tania and Millie Owen, the wife and mother of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Steve Owen, blasted the proposal as a pipeline for putting potentially violent felons back on the streets. Owen was killed Oct. 5 by a parolee while responding to a burglary call in Lancaster.
“Governor (Jerry) Brown, I’m calling you out on this,” Tania Owen said. “As far as I’m concerned, Governor Brown you are the great deceiver. How dare you think that Californians are not smart enough to inform themselves and know that you’re lying to them.”
Millie Owen said her son “was murdered in cold blood.”
“Before I even got here today I knew this (proposition) was a lie,” she said.
The proposition, which is backed heavily by Brown, would allow parole consideration for people convicted of “non-violent” felonies after serving the minimum amount of time required as part of their sentence and authorize the awarding of sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior and education. It would also give judges the final say over whether juvenile offenders at least 14 years old should be prosecuted as adults.
Brown and other backers of the measure insist it will put an emphasis on rehabilitation, reducing the likelihood of felons to commit new crimes. They also deny that it will put violent offenders back on the streets, and even non-violent offenders eligible under the proposition would have to prove they are rehabilitated and do not present a danger to the public before they are released.
Supporters of the measure deny allegations that the measure would result in felons being automatically released from prison or authorize parole for violent offenders.
“Overcrowded and unconstitutional conditions led the U.S. Supreme Court to order the state to reduce its prison population,” Brown and other supporters wrote in a ballot argument in favor of the measure. “Now, without a common-sense, long-term solution, we will continue to waste billions and risk a court-ordered release of dangerous prisoners. This is an unacceptable outcome that puts Californians in danger—and this is why we need Prop 57.”
But opponents who gathered in San Dimas at an event organized by the Professional Peace Officers Association disputed that the measure will save money or improve public safety.
“I was driving in my car the other day and heard Governor Brown spinning this Prop 57 as it was a good measure, that it was positive, it was going to save money. That’s also a lie,” said David Kling, the father of Palm Springs police Officer Lesley Zerebny, one of two officers killed Oct. 8, also by a parolee.