Fear of Felons or Fear of Change?

I had never paid much attention to State Senator Joel Anderson before his “Community Coffee” last Thursday evening.  I knew that he was a very conservative Republican, but also knew that he and my other state representative, Assemblyperson Marie Waldron, (the ex-Escondido Councilwoman who thought making landlords ICE agents would be a peachy idea,) couldn’t do much damage in the state government.

I arrived early, 5:30 pm (the affair started at 6:00 pm), showed my ticket, and was told I could go right in. There were protestors with signs on both sides of the immigration issue (a dozen or so on each side) outside the VFW post where the town hall took place,  a little loud, but pretty peaceful. The hall was filling up rapidly, but I was able to nab a seat on the aisle—I always like to be able to make a quick getaway, a little paranoid I guess. But, to quote my husband’s favorite saying, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” However, as the room filled, it became apparent that the teanderthal types I worry about were definitely outnumbered by progressives.

Councilman Ed Gallo began the proceedings after some difficulties with the mic. I’m afraid my opinion of Anderson dropped a bit when Gallo’s first words of praise for Anderson were that Anderson had supported him from the “beginning”.  Mayor Sam Abed welcomed the audience, saying that he was a proud immigrant, who had known Anderson for years, and was proud to say that Escondido was the largest city in Anderson’s district.

Anderson began with a short review of his background, claiming that he had never any intention of becoming a politician, but only did so out of a sense of serving the community. He then went into the main theme of the evening, Senate Bill 54. He railed against it, stating over and over and over that 11,661 illegal immigrant dangerous felons could be turned loose on society instead of being deported when they finished their terms of imprisonment, or were paroled. He expanded on his theme by avowing that if they could find a country dumb enough to take all of such felons (not just the illegal immigrants) he would like to do that also.

A young woman tried to point out that the bill actually required the notification of the FBI of the release of any violent felons. Anderson cut her off, saying that no, the only violent felons so covered were murderers—rapists, etc., would not be included. I asked him, why, if that was his main concern with SB54, he didn’t try to amend it. He insisted there could be no fix. I pressed, asking why it couldn’t be fixed. He said that would be unnecessary since such a fix would make it the same bill as the 2013 California Trust Act.

Anderson lied. He lied on both issues.

SB54, the California Value Act specifically states that:


(a) Whenever any person confined to county jail is serving a term for the conviction of a misdemeanor offense and has a prior conviction for a violent felony listed in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5 or has a prior felony conviction in another jurisdiction for an offense that has all the elements of a violent felony described in subdivision (c) of Section 667.5, the sheriff may notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the scheduled release of that person, provided that no local law or policy prohibits the sharing of that information with either the Federal Bureau of Investigation or federal immigration authorities.

(b) The notification may be made up to 60 days prior to the scheduled release date. The only nonpublicly available personal information that the notification may include is the name of the person who is scheduled to be released and the scheduled date of release. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB54

Section 667.5, subdivision (c) includes murder, manslaughter, mayhem, rape, etc. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=667.5.

So, there is nothing to prevent the notification of the feds of the release of such violent criminals.

The California Trust Act prohibits law enforcement official of California cities and counties from detaining individuals solely to turn over to ICE. SB54 extends that prohibition to school police and security departments. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB4

SB54 also goes beyond the California Trust Act by Having the Attorney General

“ within three months after the effective date of the act that added this section, in consultation with the appropriate stakeholders, shall publish model policies limiting assistance with immigration enforcement to the fullest extent possible consistent with federal and state law at public schools, health facilities operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state, courthouses, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement facilities, and shelters, and ensuring that they remain safe and accessible to all California residents, regardless of immigration status. All public schools, health facilities operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state, and courthouses shall implement the model policy, or an equivalent policy. All other organizations and entities that provide services related to physical or mental health and wellness, education, or access to justice, including the University of California, are encouraged to adopt the model policy.”

Anderson’s arguments beg a couple of other questions. Why do our prisons fail so miserably at rehabilitation that such felons who have served their time still represent a danger to society? Why should we be especially worried about these 11,661 when there are around 60,000 prisoners convicted of violent felons in California’s state and federal prisons?[1] Is it morally acceptable to send the prisoners that we have failed to rehabilitate back to their home countries?

Anderson exposed his libertarian leanings when he was asked why he voted against making texting while driving a moving violation. He said his daughter, when a toddler, used to take delight in throwing her cup at him from her car seat in back of him. That he said was distracting—should that be made illegal? Well, not sure how many accidents have occurred due to sippy cup mayhem, but doubt it competes with the number caused by texting while driving. Sure, after an accident, a driver could have been cited for not paying attention to their driving and causing the accident, but, unless it’s a violation, law officers would be unable to ticket someone for texting while driving before the accident occurs—preventing such accidents and their cost to society.

I don’t doubt that Anderson sincerely wants to protect society from dangerous felons. But, there’s more to his motives than that. It was clear in the VFW post Thursday evening the audience was split into two sides on the immigration issue. Those who view undocumented immigrants as people wanting make their lives better, just like my great, great, great, great-grandfather who emigrated from County Donegal to Philadelphia, and then Virginia in 1740. And, those who viewed the undocumented as law breakers who brought down wages, and posed a threat to their way of life and their culture. They represent what Van Jones has called white-lash. http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/van-jones-trump-2016-presidential-election-231048 You could feel and hear their resentment when Anderson fed their fears.

Anderson, Abed, Gallo, and Waldron are all politicians that have played on this anti-immigrant, xenophobic passion, just has Trump has done. That passion got the vote out in the November election. But there was another passion present in that room Thursday, the passion of people enraged by the display of white-lash with its ugly underbelly of prejudice and lack of compassion, a passion that has brought some hope for the future into my outlook—something that has been missing for a few months.










[1] https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/population_statistics.jsp

http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Reports_Research/Offender_Information_Services_Branch/Annual/ACHAR1/ACHAR1d2013.pdf http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Reports_Research/Offender_Information_Services_Branch/WeeklyWed/TPOP1A/TPOP1Ad170308.pdf




3 thoughts on “Fear of Felons or Fear of Change?

  1. Charlie Jungk

    Love your writing Margaret. I really think that an event like this makes the righties attending listen to the other side of the argument. (and vice-versa). Joel at least was somewhat articulate – unlike Duncan Hunter on Saturday.


  2. Pingback: A Dark and Stormy Night! | A Blue View for Escondido

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