Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca seems to be able to get his way in Sacramento.
On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills sought by Baca, including one that will increase the penalty for those convicted of “swatting,” in which 911 calls are made falsely claiming a crime is in process at a home in order to draw an armed police response.
Swatting incidents have struck several celebrities, including Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and Sean Combs.
Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrrance), himself a victim of swatting, introduced the measure at Baca's request. The bill will make those convicted of the prank responsible for full restitution, which he said could total $10,000 or more.
“Swatting drains vital resources from law enforcement and puts officers and citizens in dangerous situations,” Lieu said after the governor signed SB 333. “To those who engage in this dangerous practice, be aware this is not a game and you will be held responsible for all associated costs.”
Brown granted another Baca request and signed a bill allowing sheriffs to provide sentencing credits to nonviolent felons assigned to county jails if they complete classes aimed at rehabilitation.
To reduce prison overcrowding, the state has adopted a plan in which nonviolent felons serve their sentences in county jails instead of prisons.
But those in county facilities have not had the opportunity given inmates in prison to earn sentence-reducing credits by taking self-improvement classes, including those to boost life skills and/or obtain a high school diploma.
“The sheriff believes that education decreases recidivism and puts these people on a productive course for their lives,” said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for L.A. Country Sheriff's Department.
He noted the recidivism rate for inmates who successfully complete rehabilitation programs is 17% after one year, compared with 50% for county inmates who do not go through the programs.
Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) introduced AB 624. Republican lawmakers voted against it, saying it allows criminals off the hook without serving their full sentences.
Unlike Baca, Assemblywoman Beth Gaines (R-Rocklin) did not do so well with the governor.
Brown vetoed a Gaines bill that would double the fines for motorists who fail to slow down or move over a lane when passing an emergency vehicle with flashing lights parked on the side of the highway.
Brown noted that when court fees are added in, the penalty would go from $238 to $490.
“No showing has been made that piling on an additional $252 will protect anybody,” Brown wrote in his veto message on AB 902. “This enhanced amount strikes me as more punitive than deterrent.”ALSO: