For Immediate Release: August 31, 2016
Governor Jerry Brown Gets Bitten by Dog the Bounty Hunter
Reality T.V. Star and World Famous Bounty Hunter Duane “Dog” Chapman Takes Governor Jerry Brown to Task after Scathing Voicemail to Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims
An old adage comes to my mind when I consider Proposition 57 and your support of it. “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” There is little doubt in my mind that you seek to find an answer to a presumed crisis in the criminal justice system. There are few who would argue that incarceration rates are at their highest in the state of California. Those who see this incarceration as a problem will point to the need to release those incarcerated as the “magic bullet” to a very complex issue. However, the actions of Proposition 57 are what will bring us to the pavers of good intentions leading the citizens and the needs of public safety directly to a figurative Hell. I hope reason and common sense will overcome a false flag hope of Prop 57 as the “magic bullet”.
The most egregious notion of Prop 57 and likely the biggest issue which will affect public safety is this list of “non-violent criminals” who will all of a sudden be eligible for early release. Recently, in a phone call to Sheriff Mims, you stated that someone like Andrew Luster would not be eligible for early release. I beg to differ. The two crimes specifically mentioned in the list are rape of an intoxicated person and rape of an unconscious person.
Andrew Luster drugged and raped his victims. They were unconscious and this crime would be considered “non-violent” under Prop 57. I take this very personally because I spoke with the victims prior to chasing Luster. These women lived a life of victimization. They were victimized by Luster’s drugs and sexual assault. Their victimization continued as they could not live normal lives for fear that their attacker was always out there waiting for his opportunity to strike again. They were further victimized when the videos of the rape were released. They had to endure the rape and then re-live it over and over through the trial and through the media. While he was on the run they lived a hellish fear. The only relief they got was when he was put in jail by me.
When he skipped on his bail and ran to Mexico, every law enforcement officer in the state of California was looking for him and to no avail. I devoted months to this monster’s capture and eventually followed him to Mexico at great risk to me and my son. We were arrested and spent two weeks in a Mexican jail. I have been threatened with international extradition and have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting legal battles resulting from my decision to chase him to the ends of the earth. I never received a thing from California for bringing Luster to justice when for 166 days the entirety of California’s law enforcement community could not. However, I would make that decision again in a heartbeat because those victims deserve to know that they are safe. I cringe to think of the hundreds of monsters just like Luster who would be released under Prop 57.
Under Prop 57, you will be inviting the fear and torment back into the lives of those victims who have suffered under those crimes you claim are “non-violent”. You can offer any excuse you wish about whether someone is eligible or not because they are registered sex offenders but at the end of the day Prop 57 will call very violent sexual crimes “non- violent” and they will be eligible for early release. In the least this shows that Prop 57 was not thoroughly thought out and perhaps the only way to move forward is to go back to the drawing board.
Rape of an intoxicated person
Rape of an unconscious person
Human Trafficking / sex with a minor
Drive by shooting
Assault with a deadly weapon
Domestic violence involving trauma. Do you want to be responsible for the next Christy Mack or Nicole Brown-Simpson?
Supplying a gun to a gang member
Lewd acts on a child
Hate crimes causing injury
Failure to register as a sex offender
Arson causing great bodily injury
Felon obtaining a firearm
Discharging a firearm on school grounds
False imprisonment of an elder
This is just the first fifteen. Any sane person would recognize the danger these crimes place on the people of California. The costs of early release to the citizens will be great but even greater still is the fact that you and your support of Prop 57 will put more Californians in danger. You will be responsible for the actions that occur from these wretched people who you want released. The fact remains that these crimes are perpetrated by criminals whose intent is to cut against the grain of a good and civilized society. That intent must be dealt with before they can rejoin the ranks of law abiding citizens.
I speak as someone who has experienced the criminal justice system first hand and who has spent my life in subjugation to it. Nearly 40 years ago, in my youth, I did many things of which I am not proud. The fact of the matter is that until I turned 24 I was a drug-addled hoodlum, gang-banger, and petty thief who had no respect for the law and very little respect for the property or the rights of others. I was not much more than a selfish and lazy punk who drank heavily and often and who dumped into my pitiful young body every drug my peers pushed in front of me, which was about anything you can imagine. I was one of these “non-violent” offenders that you seek to coddle.
Narcotics and peer pressure and even good old fashioned economic necessity conspired to drive the voices of conscience and common sense deep into the recesses of my brain. It took a genuine tragedy for that voice to become a roar in my head. A tragedy that sent me to rock bottom but one which eventually led to my rehabilitation and, I hope it can be said, ultimately to my redemption. In 1976, in the state of Texas I was charged and convicted of first degree murder.
I have detailed my account of the events leading up to the murder charge in my book but, essentially, three of my friends and I were on a binge and ran out of drugs. One of our group stated that he knew where a stash of marijuana could be had at the home of Jerry Lee Oliver and the four of us drove over to the location where these drugs were said to be. Two of my friends went in to retrieve the marijuana and while inside had a confrontation with Jerry Lee which resulted in him being shot.
When I got home I called 911 and went to his house to check on him. Jerry Lee specifically informed the investigating officer that I had not been involved in the shooting but eventually the police were able to trace my involvement because of the 911 call I had placed from my own residence out of concern for Jerry Lee’s life. Jerry Lee did not survive his wounds. My three friends and I were arrested and charged with first degree murder. All of us were tried and all of us were convicted. I received a sentence of 5 years for my part, but in the end only served 18 months.
Behind the lonesome bars of the Huntsville Penitentiary, cleansed of the drugs that had held my brain captive for a decade, I began once again to hear, and finally to listen to, that still small voice calling me back to the right side of humanity and the right side of the law. By the grace of Almighty God, I faced the demons of my youth and rejected, once and for all, the pathetic life I had known since I hit the streets to escape my abusive alcoholic father. Not a day of my life passes in which I do not thank God for my deliverance from that nightmarish existence and assure Him that Jerry Lee Oliver did not die completely in vain.
I tell you this very personal story to shed some light on why I am so vehemently opposed to Prop 57. I can think of few people in the criminal justice system who can honestly say that the consequence of their crime has affected so deeply their life than I. Because of my personal circumstances and profession, the consequences to me of having this felony conviction on my record are far more grievous and consequential than they are to the average man. I also offer my honest and true statement that there is not on the face of this Earth a man more thoroughly rehabilitated from the missteps of his early years than Duane Lee Chapman.
That is what brings me to the most duplicitous portion of Prop 57. The fact that it seeks early release on those who are likely not rehabilitated, and who are not broken from the ways that landed them in jail to begin with, goes against the whole purpose of punishment commensurate to the crime. Your proposition will deny these poor souls the thing they need the most from the criminal justice system, true rehabilitation.
In order to rehabilitate them:
First, you need them sober and free of drugs then you can start to pull them back to reality.
Next, you need accountability. Showing up for court, staying sober and working a job. Leading a productive life is good for some but others require constant supervision.
Next comes sustainability. Staying clean working the same job and keeping a home. Teaching someone who has lived a life of crime is a balancing act between stern punishment and compassion and comfort. One doesn’t work without the other.
I fully support rehabilitation for offenders. It is better for public safety than our current system and the more inmates who are rehabilitated the less likely they are to re-offend. However, under Prop 57, 7,000 inmates whom have NOT been rehabilitated will be immediately eligible for release. Re-classifying violent crimes as non-violent does not address the underlying issue, it is merely a means of sweeping the problem under the rug. I strongly believe that all individuals whom would be eligible for release should be required to go through a proper rehabilitation prior to release.
Governor Brown, if you want to introduce comprehensive reform, best practices would be to make rehabilitation your first priority before you consider a plan for release. Placing individuals on probation and adding more probation officers is not comprehensive plan for rehabilitation nor will it save tax dollars. It will only cost more.
A blanket early release on supposed “non-violent” criminals will not aide in their rehabilitation. It will simply put a strung out junkie back on the streets to continue his or her life of crime.
In the last twenty years America got strong on crime. We enacted tougher laws to prevent crime in our communities and it’s been working. Overall crime is down because of the effects of three strikes and you’re out, Marcy’s law, and others that have kept our communities safe and those offenders locked up. Your proposition will undo the good effects of these policies and will ultimately leave Californian’s less safe.
The fact is, for the most part, people cannot stay in jail forever. One day they will be released and we need to think about what kind of people we want to release into our society. The prison system is broken in that regard. For the past 20 years, California and many other states have only focused on punishment and then released them back into society in a worse physical and mental state than when they went in. This failure, however, is not the fault of law abiding citizens and law abiding citizens should not be forced to bear the cost of California’s failure.
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