Sacramento’s mayor wants Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic leadership to spend $3 billion to prevent crime — a call to action that follows some of the worst violence in city history.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg on Wednesday pushed for the funding not far from the scene of a mass shooting that killed six people early Sunday.
Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, joined Steinberg and social justice advocates in urging financial support for victim services, re-entry programs, community organizations and mental health and addiction treatment.
The group sent a letter to Newsom, Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, asking for investments they say get at the root cause of community violence.
California is flush with a projected surplus of more than $30 billion ahead of May budget revisions. The crime prevention spending package Steinberg and others presented will be on the table along with other spending priorities Newsom could consider.
The spending package the mayor, legislators and advocates touted includes the following:
— $210 million for critical victim services
— $200 million to increase the capacity of community-based re-entry programs
— $200 million for a re-entry housing program
— $100 million in grant funding to go to cities and counties for community-based crime prevention
— $200 million to fund mental health treatment for people in the criminal justice system
Steinberg said he wanted to be clear that his comments on Wednesday were meant to push violence prevention funding in general.
Sacramento police on Wednesday say they believe the shooting was gang-related and that least five people fired weapons. One of the arrested suspects was released early from a 10-year prison sentence he was serving after he assaulted his girlfriend, according to reporting from The Sacramento Bee.
“I have some very serious questions about why the alleged perpetrators, and it is an allegation, were out on the streets,” Steinberg said. “And those questions need to be answered, and they will be answered over the days ahead. But I think if we’re going to be leaders, it’s also a time for reflecting on a whole host of things relating to criminal justice. And this is the truth, the failure to re-enter people effectively is, itself, a major public safety issue.”
Steinberg also suggested that any funding be matched with “clear changes in the law in ways that we have never considered before.”
“There needs to be a legal right to housing and a legal right to mental health treatment for people in California, especially people who most need the help,” Steinberg said. “Until the systems are required to respond to the need … all this money is going to help a lot of people, and it’s absolutely necessary. But we are still going to have broken systems.”
Durazo spoke in support of an element of the spending package that would provide $50 million grants to help incarcerated people re-entering society find higher-paying union jobs. She also touted a measure she authored, Senate Bill 731, which would automatically seal arrest records that don’t result in convictions.
“Over-reliance on incarceration only worsens the conditions that create violence and does nothing to actually prevent crime in the first place,” Durazo said. “We know what works, and we know what doesn’t work to protect our communities from harm.”
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