San Diego Signal

Kristie Bruce-Lane: Sacramento’s Soft-on-Crime Policies Have Made Californians Less Safe

From reducing sentencing to redefining felonies, Sacramento must acknowledge its role in eroding public safety, argues the candidate for CA AD-74.

For years, California lawmakers have pontificated about the need for criminal justice reform. Typically, their efforts have focused on lessening sentencing and minimizing punishment for criminals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the state has become by virtually metric less safe. In the last decade, the state’s prison population has fallen by 21%, but its rate of aggravated assault has risen by 39% and its homeless population has increased by around 40%.

Then, just last year, Los Angeles retailers reported 11,945 shoplifting cases—over five thousand cases higher than in 2022 (6,585). That is a staggering increase for just one city, and it speaks to the state’s inability to control its ongoing problem with smash-and-grab robberies.

While politicians frequently chalk it up to a mental health crisis or some similar socioeconomic factor, California’s rising crime is very much a byproduct of bad policy. That was the key takeaway from Kristie Bruce-Lane’s recent interview with San Diego’s KUSI-TV

Bruce-Lane is a candidate for California’s 76th State Assembly District, which encompasses the northern area of San Diego County and is currently represented by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein. Despite enjoying the advantage of incumbency and around $2.2 million in backing, Maienschein only achieved a narrow win over Bruce-Lane in 2022. This cycle, with Maienschein out of the running, Bruce-Lane hopes to attain victory by calling out the collapse of public safety for which legislators like Maienschein are responsible.

“What’s happening in California is directly related to the bad policies coming out of Sacramento,” said Bruce-Lane. “We’re going the wrong direction and we need accountability.”

Bruce-Lane drew particular attention to AB 333, which removed looting, felony vandalism, and specified personal identity fraud as crimes that could be enhanced by a gang enhancement. She also took shots at AB 960, which allows the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to recall the sentence of a prisoner if they are found to be medically incapacitated, and AB 1641, which was authored by Maienschein and, according to Bruce-Lane, “normalized the placement of sexually violent predators” in close proximity to schools. 

“These are all bills designed to either release criminals early [or] reduce their sentences from felonies to misdemeanors,” said Bruce-Lane.

Perhaps most devastating of all is the now-infamous Proposition 47, which amended existing law so that some felonies can only be charged as misdemeanors. Many Californians believe Prop 47 emboldens criminals to steal without consequences and was a major catalyst for the crime wave seen over the past decade. Recently, a proposed ballot measure was introduced with hopes of repealing the contentious proposition.

“The bad part about [Prop 47], which was intentional, is you can’t combine the theft. So someone can steal $950 worth of merchandise and, five minutes later, go back in and steal another $950. That puts a lot of innocent people in the crosshairs; it’s shutting down businesses; and we need crime control in this district,” said Bruce-Lane. “What we really need to do is repeal that altogether.”

As the owner of a company that works with homeless children and a participant on several regional boards, including San Diego’s Regional Task Force on the Homeless and the Salvation Army’s Southern California division, Bruce-Lane believes her involvement with issues of homelessness and children’s welfare make her uniquely qualified to tackle these problems if elected. 

Maienschein, on the other hand, spent the majority of his last term voting mostly in lockstep with the current supermajority in the State Legislature. In return, the Republican-turned-Democrat vast sums, like $675,000 in 2022, from Democrat Party Committees. 

“The soft-on-crime policies in Sacramento have a direct effect on what you’re seeing out here on the street,” said Bruce-Lane. “People want safe neighborhoods. They want safe communities.” 

Bruce-Lane will face Democrat opponent Darshana Patel in the November 5, 2024 general election.

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