Shasta County’s Crime Wave: View from the Prosecution

Shasta County Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett.

Shasta County Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett.

Living as I do in the peaceful, wooded foothills of eastern Shasta County, I still sometimes find it hard to believe there’s a crime epidemic sweeping the fair city of Redding in the valley below. It’s easy to get lulled into the idea California’s ongoing experiment with prison realignment and sentencing reform is doing just fine.

As just about everyone who lives in the city of Redding knows, it isn’t. The experiment began with the passage of AB 109 in 2011, the state Legislature’s response to the federal government’s declaration that our prison system was unconstitutionally overcrowded and could not provide adequate health care to the inmates.

To reduce overcrowding, AB 109 among many other things created a new criminal class, the so-called non-violent, non-sexual, non-serious felony offender. Inmates that met the new classification were either released from prison or transferred to county-supervised probation. Persons convicted of non-non-non felony offenses are now incarcerated in county jails instead of being sent to prison.

The distinction between violent and non-violent offenders also underlies various legislation and public initiatives designed to reform criminal sentencing. Prop 47, The Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act passed by voters in 2014, reclassified certain non-violent felonies as misdemeanors and allowed state prisoners to petition for re-sentencing. Felony thresholds for theft were raised from $400 to $950, in part to reduce county jail populations impacted by AB 109.

As a result of prison realignment and sentencing reform, California’s state prison population has been dramatically reduced—although not yet to the level required by the feds. A growing number of non-violent offenders, including drug addicts and the mentally ill, are receiving county-level services from the types of evidence-based rehabilitation programs championed by Senator-elect and California State Attorney General Kamala Harris. The state’s efforts are being heralded in academic quarters as a model for the nation.

Nevertheless, both rural and urban counties are struggling with the transition, and crime rates are rising. In Redding, all hell has broken loose and just about anyone you talk to will tell you that prison realignment and sentencing reform are the source of the problems.

Before my interview last week with Shasta County Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett, I posed a question on the Redding Crime 2.0 Facebook page, one of many local groups dedicated to tracking local criminals. “Do you think AB 109 has caused the increase in crime?” I asked. Among the many responses in the affirmative, I received this epic video rant from Anje Watson Walfoort, a co-founder of the Take Back Redding Facebook group.

Like many people in Redding these days, Walfoort, mother of a grown son and a teenage daughter, is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Both she and her son have been crime victims and she fears for her daughter’s safety. She’d hoped to have the video out before the election, in opposition to Prop 57, the latest layer of sentencing reform passed overwhelmingly by voters two weeks ago.

Anyone who isn’t familiar with the issue is urged to watch the video, which has more than 2100 views so far—after you read the story.

As Chief Deputy District Attorney, Bridgett is intimately familiar with the complaints detailed in Walfoort’s video, since local prosecutors have been battling to keep up with the changes wrought by AB 109 since its inception five years ago.

She’s been a DA going on 15 years and says local citizens are justified in connecting AB 109 to Shasta County’s ongoing crime wave. The jail, already overcrowded before the legislation passed, simply lacks the capacity to meet the legislation’s demands, she explained during an hour-long conversation on the topic, which is presented here edited for continuity, clarity and length, with occasional transitions provided by me.

I began by asking Bridgett how AB 109 has impacted the work of local prosecutors in the District Attorney’s office.

“The biggest impact it’s had on our office is the … sentences that we get from a judge after a sentencing hearing or a jury trial, aren’t always actually fulfilled, because the jail lacks the capacity to house everybody.

“So we have to take that into consideration. Part of us, as a prosecutor, thinks, well, if the case is worth a certain amount of jail time, that’s just a fact, and that’s what we settle for, regardless of where they’re going to be housed, because justice dictates that. Whether they go to state prison or they go to the local jail matters not.

“But in reality, we haven’t been able to stick with that too much, because … we give them two years and they go to the jail, but their crime is less egregious than the other three-hundred-and-some people there, they end up getting kicked out with their sentence served in full after a week, instead of their full two years. They’re back out committing crimes with a new boldness, because they know they just got a two-year sentence that meant a week.”

When I brought up the subject of non-non-non felony offenders, it was clear Bridgett doesn’t care much for the distinction.

“I know what you’re talking about, kind of that saying of a non-sex offender, non-strike, but these are still serious felonies, they are false imprisonment of an elder, possession for sale of drugs, vehicle theft, vehicle manslaughter while intoxicated, hate crimes, theft or fraud from an elder. These are serious crimes. I know they label them under that non-non-non, but they are crimes that should have a punishment attached to them that’s carried out. It’s not being carried out. Not because the sheriff’s not doing their job and housing them, they simply can’t [because of lack of jail capacity].”

In a nutshell, what’s the impact of AB 109 so far as it applies to the ongoing crime wave?

“It’s having these people once they get out having this new boldness because they weren’t actually punished for their crime.”

While alternative sentencing to jail is available, those programs have capacity limitations as well.

“[A jail sentence] can be transferred to another form of custody, say GPS, electronic home confinement, work program, sometimes it can be commuted to that type. But there’s capacity issues with that too, because you have to have staff to man all of that and we have a finite number of GPS systems to put on people. So not everybody is going to get out of jail into one of those alternative things. Even if they do, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to show up for work program. Work program is a lot easier than sitting in custody for two years.

“With that being the reality, we try to find other ways to sentence them, you have to get a little more creative in the way you handle your cases, every one is very fact-specific or case-specific on what we’re going to do.”

I asked Bridgett if it was true that career criminals are paying attention to changes in the law, such as the felony theft threshold that was raised from $400 to $950 by Prop 47.

“They are. It’s not uncommon to read in a police report that a person goes into WalMart with a calculator and a list and they’re writing down prices. When they walk out stealing all those items they have a boldness of, ‘Well, this is only a misdemeanor, it’s only $800, it’s only $900,’ because the threshold is $950. So, absolutely, the people who are inclined to commit those crimes are aware of what the law is.

“A lot of them have criminal convictions already, either misdemeanors or felonies, so they don’t really care if they get another misdemeanor conviction, because they know they’re not going to sit in the jail most likely, and they don’t care about their criminal record because they already have a criminal record. So it’s kind of created almost a free-for-all for the people who are already in that position, who have a criminal record and know they’re not going to go to jail.”

Prison realignment and sentencing reform have also impacted the relationship between prosecutors and crime victims.

“We have a crime victims assistance unit that deals directly with the victims and it’s certainly a different conversation we’re having with them now than they did say ten years ago. Ten years ago even on misdemeanor cases you could say, you’re a victim of misdemeanor battery and the person who did this to you will probably get an offer to resolve it for a certain amount of jail time plus certain other penalties and they’re going to actually serve that jail time.

“The conversation is different now. We’re sorry this happened to you, but they’re probably not going to spend any time in jail. That conversation happens to occur with felony cases now, too. The victims are not happy.”

I asked Bridgett about the connection between drug addiction and increasing “smash-and-grab” type property crime.

“I definitely think there’s a connection there. A way for addicts to feed their addiction is to steal items, trade it for drugs, sell it and use the money for drugs. These are people who are addicted, they need their next drug because they’re not in rehab. They often resort to certain kinds of property crime, against our business owners and our community members in order to feed their addiction.”

Yet sentence reform is now making it more difficult to force drug addicts into treatment.

“A lot of crimes that had traditionally been felonies that would come into the system there would be some teeth to the probation, because they’re on felony and they could go to prison, they can be forced to go to rehab and get treatment to keep them out of prison. It was a win-win because they could get their treatment, kick their addiction, and then in most cases those cases would be reduced to misdemeanors or even dismissed. There was a way to force that to happen.

“You change those cases from felonies to misdemeanors and now there’s no hammer, no teeth, nothing to make these people who aren’t getting something for their addiction to get some help. Most of them have drug convictions already, so what does it matter if you get another one? Or they’re so much into their addiction that it really doesn’t matter. There’s no formal probation officer involved with misdemeanors, there’s no oversight on those.”

Bridgett confirmed that the heroin epidemic coursing across rural America has indeed landed in Shasta County.

“Heroin is on the rise for sure. It’s a big problem now. When I started working here back in the early 2000s, you never saw a misdemeanor or a felony or anything related to heroin. It would have been a felony back then. It was unheard of when we filed one. Now, it’s very common, you see them every day, heroin cases.”

Methamphetamine also remains a significant problem; often heroin and meth use occur in tandem, along with the petty crimes it takes to feed a habit. But thanks to criminal justice reform, criminal addicts may be even less likely to get help. Bridgett thinks that’s because prison realignment and sentencing reform aren’t being realistically funded.

“I think with all of the changes that have occurred, AB 109, Prop 47, Prop 57 and Prop 64, all of those have components with good intentions to them, but the problem is that the funding and resources haven’t kept up with it.

“If we had a bigger jail capacity when AB 109 came out, we could have absorbed those people, instead of having them over spill into our community.

“When Prop 47 came out, if the funding had come with it so probation could have officers to work with misdemeanor offenders and put drug rehabilitation programs and facilities in place at the same time, to absorb those, then we wouldn’t have seen those people just pour out into our streets.”

“We haven’t been able to absorb these changes and these people are instead pouring into our streets without the resources they need to be successful. Just getting them out of jail isn’t going to accomplish that. There’s got to be other things that go with it.

“If we had the jail component to properly house all the ones that need to be, and we had the funding for the different resources we need in our community for both drug addiction and mental health, both, because both are heavily involved in the criminal justice system, if those people can get the help they need, then a lot of them could be successful in life and not be in the system.”

I asked Bridgett about Prop 57 and the coming changes in the juvenile justice system.

“Prior to Prop 57, the district attorney’s office had the ability when a case would come into us against a juvenile, and let’s say the juvenile committed a murder, or raped two or three people, this is someone like 16 years old, those are enumerated crimes where we could see it, see the crime, see their age, read the facts and say, we’re filing this case in adult court. It was our decision, because we review all the cases that come in for filing. We could just file it right into adult court.

“Prop 57 eliminated that ability. Those cases cannot be directly filed by our office any longer. It’s the judge’s decision.

“It will definitely impact us, because there are cases that we file that are juveniles who have committed homicides, and we [formerly] filed them directly into adult court. Or juveniles who have committed egregious sex crimes. I have confidence in our judges that they’ll make the right decisions on those cases, but you never know what’s going to happen. From the prosecution’s side, being able to be sure, to know that those crimes are going to be tried as an adult was a good thing and definitely preferable.”

I asked Bridgett if prosecutors from other jurisdictions have expressed having similar problems in their counties.

“Absolutely, everyone is having lots of problems. Some of the bigger counties, down in LA and whatnot, have bigger jails, so when AB 109 did that big shift, they were able to absorb more offender into the local jail than we did. But that doesn’t mean they’re not having all the same or at least similar issues.”

Understanding that the presidential election was a bit of a touchy subject and this is California, I obliquely asked Bridgett if she saw Trump’s victory as a referendum on law and order.

“I hope so. We’ve been taking hit after hit since 2011, since AB 109 started, and I hope this is the last round. I really do.”

As Deputy Chief DA, Bridgett is second in command, but retiring DA Stephen Carlton has tipped her as his potential successor. I asked her if taking the top job, should it come to pass, was daunting, given the changes brought by criminal justice reform.

“No. Hopefully, that’s going to put me in a position where I can do the most good in applying these laws and making sure the right people are going to be in jail, and on the flip side, those who can be rehabilitated get that chance.

That was a great place to end the interview, but Bridgett wanted to talk more about Prop 57. Recognizing that lawyers don’t give away free time for nothing, I staid put. The problem with Prop 57, from Bridgett’s point of view, the view from the prosecution, is directly related to the legal distinction between violent and non-violent felony offenders.

“As I said, on the juvenile side, I have confidence that our local judges are going to make the right call on those cases. But on the other side what Prop 57 did was it changed our sentencing laws.

“Only violent felonies can go to prison for their full prison term. If something is a nonviolent felony, the California Department of Corrections has the unilateral ability to grant them a parole date after only serving the base term of their offense, and then release them.

“They didn’t specifically write into Prop 57 what violent and non-violent is. So what you have to fall back on is the penal code definitions of what’s violent, and anything that’s not on the violent list is non-violent. So the violent list has murder, attempted murder, rape in concert, arson, those types of crimes. Non-violent crimes would be domestic violence, soliciting to commit murder, first degree burglary …”

At this point I interrupted Bridgett and asked wait, isn’t it kind of oxymoronic that domestic violence is a non-violent offense?

“Correct … hate crimes, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, exploding a destructive device with intention to cause injury—if you look at the penal code for what’s violent, anything that’s not on that list is non-violent—assault and battery with serious bodily injury, human trafficking of a minor is not violent.

“So let’s use one of those crimes off the non-violent list and see how Prop 57 has effected them.

“Let’s say we have felony-level domestic violence offender A. It’s the first time the person has ever been arrested for felony domestic violence. They’ve never been to prison before, they don’t have anything else, but it was a very egregious case, one where we say, you know what? This is bad enough we’re going to send you to prison for a base term of four years.”

“So then you have another person, offender B, who commits domestic violence and let’s say its factually identical to offender A’s. But offender B has a strike. He was holding a gun at the same time he was committing the domestic violence. He’s got prison priors, because he’s been to prison three times.

“They’ve both been charged with domestic violence. But offender B has been charged with having a gun and three prior prisons. Offender A can go to prison for a maximum of six years. Offender B can go to prison for a maximum of 20 years.

“We give A four years and they go off to prison. We give B four years also, but we add 16 years of enhancements, because of his past. Now [after Prop 57], these people go off to prison, and at the end of four years, they’re both eligible for parole.

“The one with the four years gets out automatically, because he doesn’t have those enhancements. But Prop 57 says that the California Department of Corrections can unilaterally decide to completely disregard all of those enhancements and let someone out after they complete their base term, which is just a HUGE change in the sentencing laws. … It gave them the ability to disregard consecutive sentencing and enhancements.”

She still wasn’t done. I knew in advance that prosecutors are at best lukewarm about the changes that have been forced upon them. I am beginning to understand why: It’s preventing them from doing their job effectively.

“You really need a flow chart to figure out where people can go nowadays. Rape of an intoxicated person is considered non-violent under Prop. 57. Human trafficking of a minor is nonviolent under Prop 57. They could traffic ten minors and be let out after serving the sentence for just one kid.

“So all these victims are in court and they hear the judge pronounce a 50-year sentence, and they’re like great I’m never going to see this person again. They can’t have confidence in that now, because that judge’s sentence can be basically overruled by the California Department of Corrections. And they can be let out after five or six years.”

If you’re still wondering what the fuss is all about and you haven’t watched the video at the top of the story, here it is again.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas.
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53 Responses

  1. Randall Smith says:

    The good news is voting with one’s feet is still an option.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      As a matter of fact, we just did that over the weekend—moved back to our Palo Cedro house.  We had downsized into a house in Sunset Terrace, but after about six years in town we were ready for country life again.  The move wasn’t entirely motivated by what’s going on in town, but that played no small part—especially given that the city’s citizens seem to lack the will to do anything meaningful to address the growing problems.

      The violent crime epidemic is overblown, but the petty crime and aesthetic problems certainly are not.  Two vehicle break-ins (including a smashed window) in four months? Enough. Encountering filth in our greenbelts? Enough. The daily encounters with prison-inked, dead-eyed bottom-feeders darting in and out of traffic on BMX bikes on Eureka way?  Enough. Watching RPD hand out traffic citations to people who can pay the fines while ignoring all of the street-level debauchery? Enough.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        So Steve, if one was considering moving the other direction, from say the Whitmore area toward Redding, would Palo Cedro be about as far as you’d consider? Serious question. Is there a nice neighborhood in Redding that’s immune to this stuff?

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          I like to do townie stuff—restaurants, concerts, brewpubs, shopping, tennis—with no more than a 15-minute drive to and from home. Palo Cedro is my perfect outer distance, though Highway 44 is a bit of a blood alley. I don’t know if there are neighborhoods in Redding that are immune—I doubt it.  I think a big part of Redding’s problems is that there are greenbelts everywhere, and where there are greenbelts, there are homeless campers, some of whom are out making the daily (or nightly) rounds. Our place in town is in Sunset Terrace—one of Redding’s most desirable older neighborhoods. We’ve had prowlers enter the back yard via the alley, vehicle break-ins, and stolen mail.


        • JJ Johnson says:

          River Park Highlands is very nice, safe and convenient to everything and we have 5 houses for sale right now which NEVER happens!

  2. Beverly Stafford says:

    Since overcrowding of prisons and local jails is the reason criminals are back on our streets through a revolving door and since outsourcing so many other operations seems to be the norm, why not outsource the whole prison system to southern Mexico?   And along that same line of thinking, why not send all illegal aliens who are in prison back to their countries of origin?  I’ve read that a huge percentage of prisoners are illegals.  If they weren’t taking up cell space, there would be more room for local miscreants.

    As always, I like Randall Smith’s observations and conclusions.

    Thanks for this in-depth article, R.V.  It’s a depressing eye-opener.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I plan on addressing the illegal immigrant and transient issues related to local crime in a future episode. Sorry this was depressing. I’m just trying to find out how the different people who work in the system cope with it.

  3. Karen C says:

    Our previous Chief of Police Robert Blankenship  used to say, “it is a cat and mouse game, and it isn’t going to get any better folks!”  He was a visionary and  was obviously correct.

    So, we the people are taking measures to protect ourselves better and from what I can see, those of us who listen, watch, and observe are doing it well.  The rest, who do not pay attention, are still getting cars ransacked, homes broken into, property stolen, and mugged in parking lots.  We can all do better, let’s do it, it will make a difference.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      It seems like such a little thing–don’t leave anything laying out in your car–but the one time you forget to do it is the one time you get smashed and grabbed.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        We asked our daughter to join us for dinner at Woody’s a couple weeks back.  She had to pick up her daughter from daycare on her way home from work and meet us there.  She was running a late, so when she arrived she tried to quickly hide her stuff in the back seat on the floorboards.  While we were eating, someone smashed her car window and took her work laptop, purse, iPad, and a GPS init.

        I drove around the area for about 30 minutes looking for a bottom-feeder type carrying a backpack (her laptop case is backpack-style).  In a radius of about five blocks, there were literally tens of shady-looking people skulking around carrying personal backpacks.  On one corner a couple blocks from Woody’s, three people were pulling stuff out of their packs, comparing their hauls.

        Even in well-lighted areas with plenty of people around, you can’t leave anything in your vehicle.

        • Beverly Stafford says:

          Nor can you walk very far without being accosted.  Recently I (husband had the flu) attended a performance at the Cascade.  I went very early so I could park as close as possible and found a spot on Placer nearly across from Market.  ‘Twas great.  Then a couple of weeks later, we attended another performance and did the same thing.  When we are together, I don’t mind parking and walking a couple of blocks down Market, but alone?  Not even.  We never park in that monstrosity of a parking garage – not without being heeled, at least.

  4. Hollyn Chase says:

    I consider myself a reasonably informed voter. But this fall, when I received the the voter information booklet, I couldn’t help but note that it was almost three-quarters of an inch thick. I can say I read through it–but certainly not in its entirety. Thus, I, like many voters, did my best to guess at which props seemed the most likely to do the most good.  I was almost relieved I was on the losing side of many of the issues–thus negating my responsibility. So, as I read your excellent article, it was with the sinking feeling that through my past votes, I may have participated in this travesty of “justice”. My husband has jokingly suggested a stockade and spanking paddle in the mall as a better deterrent than the laughably short jail sentences that seem to do little to deter repeat offenders. I hate to admit this, but maybe he has a point.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I feel your pain. Just on a knee-jerk level, I used to vote for every sentencing reform initiative because I felt like its the right thing to do. I’m learning that changes to criminal law have many unintended consequences. I voted no on 57 because of what I’ve been learning.

  5. A big question I see is how can the penal code be changed so that ‘violent non-nonviolent’ crimes like domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, and exploding a destructive device with intention to cause injury are actually acknowledged to be the violent crimes they are?

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      The Penal Code can be changed, and I’m guessing that it will be.

      • Matthew Meyer says:

        The deputy DA seems to think that passing the sentencing reform legislation is the source of the problems you two discuss, and you, RV, say that you voted against the measure.

        Much of the article is a recitation of obviously violent crimes not considered to be violent under our penal code.

        Strange the two of you don’t advocate more for just reforming that list.

        Also strange that you don’t mention, and she doesn’t mention, any of the actually nonviolent crimes that are no longer felonies; much less do you argue for keeping their former status.

        It adds up to repeating the talking points of anti-reformers without any larger context. There’s sympathy aplenty for the challenges the deputy DA faces in her job, and for the victims of property crime, but apparently little interest in explaining what’s caused the current situation beyond pointing fingers at naive hug-a-thug sentencing reform.

        Mate this piece with your text on “Killing the American Dream,” maybe that will help diminish the impression you let your interviewee set your frame for you.


  6. Virginia says:

    Thank you for a well written article.

    A couple of months ago, I had men try to break into my house in the middle of the night, but since they didn’t succeed, it was just a misdemeanor trespassing.  Forget even filing a complaint.  The officer would spend more time writing up the offense than the person(s) would be in jail.  And, the man or men tried again at a different entrance about a week later.  Thankfully, my two dogs scared them away!  The officer called the men, “crazies”!

    For people who believe that just putting the addict into rehab is going to keep them from going back to drugs is a dreamer.  Rehab is about 5% to maybe 12% who do NA actual rehabilitation.  I volunteered at drug rehab opened and ran by rehabbed addicts as a live-in facility nearly 50 years ago.  And, the years since have just added more addicts in epidemic proportions, with the same rehabilitation rate.

    May the Lord help us!

  7. michael barrios says:

    Is there nothing positive about the proposition that won 63% of California’s.  I understand that law enforcement folks want to ensure their incomes; really, don’t we all.  However, not one word about the good that we may all experience by focusing on rehabilitation, on change, on recognizing repairs to our past judicial failures.  Facts:  District Attorneys will still make recommendations on juvenile jurisdiction.  They will now just have to justify their decisions to a higher power: a judge.  The non-non-non’s must serve their base sentence before a parole board will determine if he or she should be released.  There are no “free passes” here; only, warranted early release to well vetted citizens.  And, yes there will be mistakes but it happens.   I know that progress, intelligence & change is often a challenge.   However, get over it – it’s the law!

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      michael barrios you are correct, there are positive aspects to all the changes discussed in the above story. This is an ongoing series, and I will be presenting what people who actual work in the system think about it, from probation to the sheriff to rehab facilities etc. This being an interview with the Chief Deputy District Attorney, it’s obviously slanted toward the prosecution’s point of view, and tried to signal that with the headline. I will be presenting as many points of view as possible in future stories.

    • sonia says:

      You are not well informed sir. Crime is a constant and we are always understaffed so job security is never an issue. As to the rehab aspect, unfortunately without the threat of incarceration the “carrot”  has no stick so no one is interested. They can stay out of custody and keep doing what they are doing. Drug courts are empty since A109, 47 and now 57.  As to the juveniles, the law (prop 21;,passed in 2000) only allowed direct filing on very serious cases like murder, assaults with weapons, forcible rapes, drive by shootings.  So there were plenty of restrictions. Judges in juvenile court conduct business in privacy as the hearings are mostly closed to the public. You have no idea what oversight there will be. If you saw what went on you would be appalled, but you won’t and the Judges know it. The parole boards are hired by the governor, who has a federal mandate to decrease  prison overcrowding which is what this Prop 57 is about. That’s why the governor campaigned for it and gave the prison guards Union a big fat raise for their endorsement. As a law enforcer I will abide and enforce the law but don’t kid yourself, this is politics disguised as change.

  8. Rod says:

    Excellent reporting of the dire situation, RV. This time however, no cigar.

    Stephanie Bridgett and yourself kept on the title track very well.  We’re in deep dodo. I didn’t find a solution imbedded within the interview.  It never fails on public safety issues,  make a lot of noise and demand more LE and bed space.  It’s as though we’re predisposed to growing and comforting the criminal population.  We’ll reverse that course sooner or later.  Not soon enough for most people.

    We’ve made criminals into a self-sufficient circle of survival.  We no longer STOP the criminals, instead we provide for their bogus rehabilitation.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  Treat criminals like criminals and end their food chain.  The 1 strike law should be resurrected.


    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      No cigar? WTF? Kidding. I didn’t have a lot of time for presenting solutions in this story, so I didn’t try to. I just wanted to hear what the prosecution had to say. The raw numbers on the jail and various custody programs verify what Bridgett told me. That’s nothing new. I believe the county is getting short-changed by the state, and the budget for all this shit will be dealt with in a future episode.

      As for the 1-strike law, I’m sure Bridgett is in complete agreement.

  9. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Interesting video—the statistics at the front end show that in most cases the increases in local crime have been nominal.  What’s interesting about Redding and Shasta County isn’t the respective 0.5% and 7.7% increases in violent crime rates over a year.  (:::yawn:::)  No, what’s interesting is that Shasta County has damned near twice the violent crime rate as the average for California…and it’s been that way since long before AB 109. That’s not Gov. Brown’s fault, nor the fault of city dwellers. It’s our local culture of booze, guns, despair, anger and meanness.

    In further defense of Gov. Brown, he was happy to stuff our state prisons with criminals up to the point in time when the federal courts stepped in and forced the state to figure out a way to thin prison densities. He could have floated initiatives to raise taxes and build more prisons. Rural counties would have good reason to love that—it would put most of the financial burden for the solution on urbanites who already pay most of California’s bills and subsidize Shasta County and the other the rural counties, all of which are revenue-sucks. Strangely, the voters in rural counties generally don’t understand that tax increases at the state level benefit them disproportionately, and vote against all new taxes.

    But Brown didn’t propose a tax for more prison cells. Instead, his solution was to punt the problem of excess prisoners back to the counties.

    It’s political genius.  The coastal liberals will do what they do: Support Brown, tax themselves to build more jail space, hire more cops, and provide homeless shelters and other support services, including drug rehab, and shoo those who refuse all of the above away. Redding and Shasta County voters will do what they do: Refuse to increase local taxes, refuse to build more jail space and hire more cops, wail about the human flotsam and jetsam accumulating on the streets while doing nothing to address it, and run around with our hair on fire howling that it’s all the fault of Brown and them city folks.

    Remember California’s budget crisis? Brown got zero cooperation from voters in rural counties and from our representatives in Sacramento. It’s possible to view all of this shifting of responsibility back to the counties as Brown giving a stiff middle-finger salute to the rural counties. Both hands. The CalFire fee…AB 109…all of it.  It’s like he’s saying, “You don’t want to play ball? You want to be your own state? Knock yourselves out….but I’m pinching the straw that you use to suck from our collective milkshake, just enough so that you’ll feel it.”

    Would Brown be that vindictively machiavellian over so many years? The dude was schooled by Jesuits.  As Hunter S. Thompson (himself schooled by Jesuits) once told David Letterman: “I like Jesuits because they’re smart and mean.”

    • Damon Miller says:

      On the mark. We reap what sow.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Damn dude, you’re sounding like one of those conspiracy theorists! Yet I’m in total agreement with you. If this was done on purpose, it’s bloody damn brilliant politics.

      I’m looking into budget issues in future episodes, and I’m collecting some very interesting statistics. The crime rate can be measured many different ways. The state AG’s website has pretty good stats, shows steady increase in charged felonies in Shasta County, from around 1700 annually to 2600, through 2011-2014. (that’s off the top of my head so …) There’s definitely some shit happening.

      • Matthew Meyer says:

        Wish you’d put some of those numbers in your article…tired of sky-is-falling narratives based on anecdotes…

  10. Grammy says:

    Neighbor was broken into again last week.  Drug addicts.  Released with a ankle monitor.

    What worries us (his neighbors) is that he has two under five children that he leaves sometimes to go to the store.  What if the house is broken into while he is gone?

    Gone (probably forever) are the Leave It to Beaver days.  Now days we see guards at the Dollar Tree!  No chance of anyone stealing $950 worth of stuff there.

    No one I know goes shopping after dark in Redding.  Just not safe anymore.  No one goes walking after dark in Redding unless you have a big dog with a loud bark.

    Gone forever is our 1980’s Shasta County that we fell in love with.

    Counties are going bankrupt from retirement payouts from CALIPERs.  But what is the answer to a high risk job that all you have to look forward to is the retirement?

    Sure do not think the answer is to put a methadone clinic in Shasta County so the addicts do not have to drive to Chico.  Let them move to Chico!  Oh wait, wouldn’t want that wished on any place.

    So many questions but no answers.  Throwing more money at the problem isn’t going to help when the drug addicts are multiplying faster than the prison space (where they don’t put them anyways.)  And what’s with the fine?  If they had money they wouldn’t be out there ripping people off.  Isn’t that making the problem worse by forcing them to come up with even more money?

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      How much are we willing to pay for peace of mind?

      • Grammy says:

        Would have been more than willing to vote for the half percent tax if there was the guarantee written into the wording that it would go to the crime issue and not to retirement or whatever Redding wanted it to go towards.

        And that was the problem..there was no guarantee and we as tax payers have learned the hard way.  In writing plain and simple.

    • K. Beck says:

      One does NOT leave two children, under the age of 5, alone for ANY reason! If anything happened to either of them (not just someone breaking into the house) the man would be thrown in jail. Does he not know that?

  11. Jess says:

    Thanks for this Story….. Now the question…. What are we going to do about jail space?  Obviously needed like ten years ago, what is the plan……

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Believe it or not, there is a plan. But I think it’s up to us to make sure our public officials implement it.

  12. Steven says:

    You were right to point out that the court deemed the prisons in California were unconstitutional as the catalyst for AB 109 and other reform propositions. It is not those propositions themselves that is causing crime, but are creating crime management issues for Redding. Like it or not, crime is not caused by weak laws any more than it is prevented by tough ones. And laws that usurp the Constitution aren’t actually laws. Redding will not be able to get its crime under control until it looks at the real cause of crime, like poverty, lazy parenting, and the treatment of mental illness as mental illness, and not crime.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Thank you for noticing that. I front-loaded the intro with pros and cons, but I wanted to present the unvarnished opinion of the prosecution in the interview. This is a series, I’ll be covering as many sides as possible.

  13. cheyenne says:

    Vote with your feet.  Now I read that “Yes, California” is working to put secession of the whole state of California from the union on the 2018 election of the calendar.  They said they are moving up their agenda because of the election of Trump.  Reasons cited were California is tired of supporting the rest of the country with their taxes and California is culturally different than the rest of the country.  LA Times has an article on it.

    And for those who don’t want to hear from Wyoming, I have a dog in this fight.  For twenty years I paid 7 1/2 percent of my wages into CALPERS so yes I am concerned what would happen to my paid for pension because I am culturally different.


    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Hopefully, just the blue part of California will secede, then we can bill them for the water.

      • Virginia says:


      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        I’m not going to chase down a confirmation, but I suspect that if you charged for “our water” (a dubious legal claim given who paid for much of our water storage and transfer infrastructure and controls water contracts) sufficient to compensate for the loss of revenue subsidies that we currently receive from urban California, the price would be so high that you would motivate those water purchasers to go looking elsewhere for their water.

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          Shasta is monitored by the USBR. The blue coast secedes, becomes its own sovereign, we petition the feds for a cut on the water sales.

    • K. Beck says:

      No matter how much some people who live in California want to secede from the USA, it is a long process and likely to fail. Before everyone jumps on that band wagon look up the facts. Also, while California sends a lot of tax money to DC, DC sends a LOT of money to CA. Life is complicated. We all can’t just take our marbles and go home. Easier to find a new home somewhere else, where you will find a lot of things you don’t like, again.

      Putting effort into fixing what is wrong where you are is a whole lot easier than any of the rest of these silly plans. Problem is, most people want a magic wand, and there isn’t one.

    • Christian Gardinier says:

      Never happen.

  14. Jesse says:

    Thank you so much for this informative article.  I hate seeing the decline in Redding but have a greater understanding of the true issues now.  I still believe that with a change in laws and better leadership that we as a community can restore what has been stolen from us.

  15. Citizen Dane says:

    RV, Im not sure what your interview really reveals. Our DA is but one of many in the state of Ca who’s office has been “dumped on” by the AB109/P-47 criminal release blitz. In other words, I dont believe our area wins the “we have it worse than anyone” award.

    The DA seems like a nice lady but we need to remember, even a DA has to have some politician blood in themselves or they won’t survive…ANYWHERE. Too, we must remember, all city position holders know how to apply the “squeaky wheel” theory…Not passing judgement and I mean no offense but, even reporters can be a useful tool…

    Smash and grab here, smash and grab there, oh my!  Guess what folks, it happen EVERYWHERE in our state and I would be willing to bet some S & G’s have nothing to do with SB109 or Prop 47 at all. If you’re dumb enough to leave your laptop on the dash of your spritzy new Prius or even a Nikon 5000 dangling from the rearview of Dad’s  97 Honda Accord, you shouldn’t be surprised if you are thrust into one of those – “What did you think would happen…?” moments in life that in all fairness, we ALL HAVE had happen or will have happen sooner or later, early release dates or not…

    Are we really down to – “Hey someone stole my goat…” Grrr, them damn lowlife AB109/Prop 47 bastards…!?” When do we simply admit or consider – maybe our town was beginning to slide to the crappy side even before AB109/Prop47? Are all the Redding  homeless Prop 47 refugees?

    May I offer up that as a society,  perhaps a part of our problem is simply that we are just not as nice, friendly or trustworthy as we once were- ANYWHERE. Dont believe me? Break down on the side of the road and see how many non-AB109/Prop 47 recipients stop to lend you a hand…

    If we need to blame someone, start with the state of Ca. We might want to include the voters because without them, AB109/Prop 47 doesn’t happen. But really, that’s neither here nor there. Ca should have had the foresight to create programs in place to help ALL the little Redding’s of the state to deal with the impending Bonnie, Clyde, Ted Bundy, Juan Corona(yea, that’s right, even the Juans of the world) and Yosemite Sam types who where surely going to ascend on our seemingly poor, defenseless hamlet where laptops and such are just lying around for the smash n grabbin… If you’re going to release water from the dam, its only prudent to let folks downstream know when and how much, right?

    Newsflash – Our town isn’t THAT high up there as a model town in how we run our business. I’m sure, just like anywhere, there are District Attorneys, Sheriffs, Police Chiefs and even Mayors, who, when someone comes asking WTF, they will sometimes…ummm… point the finger elsewhere as to why we have crime in our city…

    Just playin the *DA here…CD

    * the other DA- the Devils Advocate…

    • Rod says:

      “as to why we have (too much)crime in our city”.

      We like crime and the people who create good-paying jobs.  It’s one of the issues everybody pretends to not understand.  Crime pays good people very well.  The statistics clearly show that our industry of managing criminals is out of control.  Emotional terrorism is alive and well in Redding.  People of Redding are being harmed by a protected species, human criminal.

      It’s easy to understand why this stupidity began, it’s much, much harder to disengage the dragon.

      Throwing money and comfort at the dragon is a fools’ errand of appeasing the beast,  it just gets stronger.  Obviously we’re still short of the tipping point.  We’ll feed it again, and again, and again.  I sometimes ponder the thought…….how tough can the dragon be?

      Next election,  I’m voting for the Dragon Slayer.



    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Rather than reveal any earth-shattering news, the purpose of this installment  was to establish, with the help of a public official, that there is indeed a strong connection between AB 109 and the various voter initiatives and the crime we’ve been experiencing. I should note that voters did not have much of a say in AB 109, it was Gov. Brown and the Legislature’s response to the federal order to decrease the prison population. As the story subject notes, these problems are happening all across the state. Bakersfield is having a crime wave very similar to ours. Urban localities, the crime is more spread out, difficult to spot trends, but there having problems too. I agree the leadership of this county needs to step it up. That’s what the Public Safety Blueprint recommended–along with a larger jail.

  16. Sharon Doyle says:

    Please forward this to Mr. Trump,

    Wonderful editorial. I live in rural WA and Heroin is taking over our lifestyles. Addicts will go to any means to steal a dime. Even if it costs you hundreds. Trailheads are no longer safe. Homes are more and more equipped with surveillance cameras. I haven’t locked my property for 25 years but no longer feel safe. So sad. Communities need to come together and be heard. I love my neighbors and town and hate to feel subjected to such rampant crime. I encourage everyone to go to an animal shelter and rescue a nice Doberman or German Shepherd. Or any breed that looks scary.

    Put these creeps to work on manual labor so they are too tired to do anything but sleep.

    God Bless us All

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Yeah, we’ve got young teenage heroin addicts in Shasta County too. It’s not pretty.

    • cheyenne says:

      Interesting.  Here in Cheyenne, The Black Dog Rescue, rescues stray or abandoned dogs and takes them to the prison in Torrington.  There the dogs are trained by inmates and then adopted by families through out the state.  But they do rescue all breeds not just the scary ones.  The adoption fees paid by the families support the program.

  17. Karen C says:

    Sharon,  rescuing a scary looking dog from the animal shelter is a good thing, but only if one wants to make a commitment to having a dog.  They are pack animals and do not do well outside alone and  cold or too hot.  They want to be with family.  We have a 13 lb. wonder dog in our home, no one gets to our front door or into our yard without her sending off signals of gigantic proportion.  I would never turn my pet loose on a crazed heroin addict , but I would certainly protect my animal with all that I know how to do now to protect my family and property.  Once alerted, it is your responsibility to do so.  Remember, your scary looking dog is not a trained attack animal who will respond at once to the master’s commands.  Police dogs and other trained bite  dogs are well protected by their handlers using their voices to guide them along through the attack.  They will let loose and run back when told to do so.  So many of the tweekers carry knives  and I would not want my animal stabbed.

    I am with you on the “God Bless us All.”

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