This week I came to the “People’s House” to voice my concerns about how ending California’s bail system would impact my own house. My testimony was met with jeers and accusations as I talked about the real life ramifications to “my house” (inner-city neighborhoods in Los Angeles) if California starts to automatically release hundreds of thousands of defendants into our streets.
In the Assembly Public Safety Committee, the authors of Senate Bill 10 – State Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) – spoke about the need to eliminate a paid bail system. While I couldn’t believe what was coming out of their mouths, I was even more disturbed by what wasn’t said.
In the “People’s House,” Hertzberg and Bonta described the arrested, charged, bailed and those sitting in jail as the victims of our society, and the rest of us law-abiding citizens as the oppressors. In their version of the world, the authors infer that the police, prosecutors and judges are intentionally limiting the freedoms of our poor minority communities. Given this faulty premise, they hold up SB 10 as some sort of heaven-sent solution, which in reality will automatically release the vast majority of those arrested for crimes back into our communities.
In “my house” we don’t have gated communities. Our windows have bars on them – not for decoration, but protection. In “my house,” crime is rampant. It is a place where people are afraid to report crimes, even when they know the perpetrator, because of the reprisal from the local gangs. In “my house,” it is a struggle just to survive.
In “my house” there are over 450 active gangs, with a combined membership of 45,000 individuals. In “my house” there are 900 rapes, 40,000 thefts, 8,200 burglaries, and 140 yearly homicide cases.
I grew up without a father on a plantation near Tuskegee, Alabama during the Jim Crow era. I participated in the civil rights movement. For the past 30 years, I have dedicated my life to counseling and mentoring black men, women and families suffering from depression, loss of loved ones, anger and the poison of hate, blame and victimhood.
That is the reality I sought to convey in the “People’s House.”
I was passionate in my comments, when I told Hertzberg and Bonta that they fail to understand or account for what is really happening in our black communities – the crimes, victims and gangs.
The chair of the Public Safety Committee cut off my microphone when I bluntly talked about the damage that SB 10 would do to our black working families, and the fact that the bill sponsors fail to respect the plight of innocent people living in tough areas. It was very clear to me that the chair and members of the committee have lost touch with the gritty reality of our communities. You can’t just read a book, article, or statistics and understand what is happening on the streets of our black and Hispanic neighborhoods. You need to live it and be around it to know the struggles are real.
Missing from Hertzberg and Bonta’s speeches were the voices of the rape victims, the burglarized, the bullied and the intimidated. They ignore the concerns of the good and decent Hispanics and black folk trying to stay safe in high-crime neighborhoods. The people being released from jail won’t be going back into Hertzberg and Bonta’s neighborhoods, they will be returning to “my house.”
SB 10 was approved by the committee, because in the “People’s House,” our jails are filled with poor people who are only victims. Yet in “my house,” the communities are filled with people who commit crimes, who then get out of incarceration and then threaten the already frayed fabric of our inner cities.
SB 10 may make our detached legislators feel good. But rather than addressing true racial inequalities, including the disproportionate criminal victimization of innocent people, this misguided and simplistic measure only perpetuates hopelessness and the deterioration of minority neighborhoods in urban California.
Jesse Lee Peterson is an American author and is president and founder of BOND (the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny), a religious nonprofit dedicated to “Rebuilding the Family by Rebuilding the Man.” For over 27 years, BOND has offered counseling for people dealing with all issues, helping them to overcome anger through forgiveness. BOND holds weekly Church service, monthly Men’s Forum, and an annual Conference on “Fatherhood and Men” before Father’s Day.
Source: Fox and Hound: Fox and Hound Article