In recent years the gap between fact and fiction in American journalism has become so wide that articles citing completely false “facts” are routinely featured in once-respected news sources. One recent example is a September 29 article in the San Francisco Examiner by Opinion Editor Gil Duran. The piece focuses on the tragic September 4 sexual assault and murder of 61-year-old Molly Tibbitts in Sacramento. Habitual felon Troy Davis was arrested for these crimes along with killing the victim’s dogs and setting fire to her home. Davis had been arrested for stealing a car last June and was released without bail. As one might expect, the Tibbitts family, her friends and neighbors and law enforcement leaders wanted to know why a repeat felon on parole got released on zero bail after stealing a car three months before the murder. Duran contends that the Sacramento County’s “pro-Trump” Sheriff “may deserve some of the blame.” He also suggests that if this crime had occurred in his former home of San Francisco, or in Los Angeles, Republicans would have blamed the progressive Chesa Boudin and George Gascon, both of whom support zero bail.
On this Duran is right. The policies that Boudin and Gascon have implemented, refusing to charge most property and drug offenders and seeking the shortest sentence possible for violent offenders most certainly has contributed to the dramatic increases in crime in San Francisco and Los Angeles. When people are murdered by criminals who were free under these policies, those who support them, including district attorneys, chiefs and sheriffs should be called out.
But this is where Duran and the truth part company. He tells us that in the 2020 election, after California Voters rejected the zero bail law passed by the legislature, “it never took effect.” Yet throughout 2020, at the request of Governor Newsom, the California Judicial Counsel ordered zero bail for every arrestee not facing charges for a violent crime. This policy extended into 2021 for non-violent crimes such as auto theft, unless the arresting agency, in this case the Elk Grove Police Department, or the county sheriff asked for a parole hold on Davis. But even if they did he might have been held, but he also might have been released anyway.
Duran continues “Polls show an increase in voter’s concerns about violent crime despite the fact that overall crime rates have been at historic lows in recent years.” Overall crime is a ruse to mask the dramatic increase in violent crime. The year after Jerry Brown signed AB109, the so-called Public Safety Realignment bill into law, allowing the release of 30,000 habitual felons from prison, violent crime jumped by 12% for the first time in all but one of the previous fifteen years. It has continued to increase in seven of the past ten years as the state enacted Proposition 47, a 2014 Soros/ACLU financed ballot measure that turned most felonies into misdemeanors with essentially no consequences for offenders, and Proposition 57, the 2016 Soros/Brown bankrolled initiative that dramatically reduced the sentences for serious and violent criminals and authorized the early release of thousands of inmates including rapists and murderers.
The “overall crime rates” in recent years cited by Duran lumps the thousands of property crimes which have gone unreported after Proposition 47 eliminated the consequences for committing them, with historic increases in shootings and murders in Los Angeles (homicide up 95%), Oakland (most murders since 2013), San Francisco (double the shootings from 2019). Duran writes that the warning by Republican’s “that the pubic safety realignment would result in `blood on the streets’…….never materialized.’ On the contrary California experienced historically low crime over the past decade….resembling crime rates in the early 1960s.”
Reeeeeeally? Violent crime rates ranged from 234 – 305 per 100,000 Californians between 1962 and 1966. It was 437 per 100,000 last year and the numbers are reportedly increasing this year. A 44-86% increase in violent crime represents the “blood on the streets’ Duran told us “never materialized.” A nine-year-old child could have found this data online in about five minutes.
It certainly materialized for Molly Tibbitts. Troy Davis had been arrested nine times between 2014 and 2021, with convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and robbery in 2017 and 2018. These are serious and violent felonies which, prior to enactment of Public Safety Realignment in 2011, and Proposition 57 in 2016, would under previous law have kept him in prison for at least ten to fifteen years. He never would have been free to steal a car last June, get released on zero bail and brutally murder Tibbitts Under the sentencing and bail reforms Duran apparently supports, Davis was left on the streets to kill somebody.
To buttress his narrative, Duran cites U.C. Berkeley Criminologist Franklin Zimring who told him “This has been a very peaceful era in California, crime-wise.” One has to wonder what color the sky is in his world. Zimring has been consistently wrong about criminal justice policy for more than 40 years, and is currently so out of touch he unaware that crime in Berkeley is 126% higher than than the national average and even worse in nearby Oakland.
And to think these people actually get paid to tell the rest of us what’s going on.