REDDING, Calif. — Steven Bailey is a retired Superior Court Judge from El Dorado County who is now running for California Attorney General. On Wednesday, Bailey sat down with KRCR's Julia Avery to talk about why he is running and his vision for California.
Here is his full interview:
Why did you decide to run?
"After eight and a half years on the Superior Court, I started seeing exactly the same type of people coming back and forth in front of me we would send them to prison and they would be back here on the very same types of crimes that we had sent them there for in the first place. It became evident that our policy in California towards criminal justice and protecting the public wasn't working. Somebody needed to go do something and who better to do it then a retired superior court judge?"
That is a hot topic in the Northstate, jail space and the criminal justice system in general. Is this a priority for you?
"It is. The problem in California is we've taken the criminal justice system and turned it upside down and we've dumped nearly 40,000 hardened criminals out of our state prisons. Doing that has put undue pressure on our local governments and on our local jails and sheriff's," Bailey said. "It's to such an extent that people who are committing crimes are simply being taken in and released and that sends the message to a criminal that it's ok to continue violating the law."
Many are saying the crime and homelessness is a result of problems with the criminal justice system in California. Would you agree there is a connection there?
"I do. Those 40,000 people were sent back to our streets and our neighborhoods. They didn't have any place to go before, they were committing crimes before and they are back here victimizing our kids and our grandkids. They are living on our streets and they think they are entitled to our property and they're not. As Attorney General, we're going to make a fundamental change in California's criminal justice system. We're going to start sending hardened criminals back to the state prisons. Now, that doesn't just happen, it's going to take legislative changes but it's also going to take an attorney general whose committed to protecting public safety."
What ideas will you be proposing to make these changes?
"All of the changes in AB 109 need to be undone. AB 109 basically emptied the prisons and sent hardened criminals back to the county jails. Those county jails were never built for long-term incarceration. They have no programs and the money just isn't there on the local level to be able to prevent recidivism or to supervise those who have been sent back to the counties and local probation."
The frustration about jail space and "book and release" is often taken out on local government. Is this frustration warranted or is it out of their hands?
"I think a lot of local governments problems are coming directly out of Sacramento. Sacramento's attitude is they have no real concern about addressing the day to day real problems. For example, homelessness, mental health, drug addiction, is something that is foreign to Sacramento they don't particularly care about it. Those are hard problems and they don't want to deal with it. That's why they dump it off to local government. The problem is we don't have the resources at the local level to do what needs to be done. The money needs to come from somewhere. Ultimately, we need Sacramento to address these problems. As Attorney General, I'm going to take the lead in Sacramento to stand up and protect our local taxpayers and our local government officials. They are being put in a position that it's a no-win."
What are you going to do differently than the current attorney general?
"The current attorney general's philosophy is to simply let people out of prison, let them out of the county jail. Just yesterday in his press conference, a four-time convicted robber was being released in San Francisco back to the streets. He thought that was a good idea, but a person who is charged with three counts of robbery and one count of residential burglary is the very poster child of a person we want to leave in custody. The fact that he can't make bail is not our concern. It's our public safety. The presumption is he committed the crimes at this point and we need the public to be safe, first. Not his particular condition or desire to be out on the street."
As a Republican, how do you plan to win over the votes in a typically more liberal state?
"Crime and public safety is not a Republican issue, it's not a Democrat issue and quite frankly it's not an independent issue. It's an issue that affects each and every one of us individually. To have somebody steal from any of us is something that we can't condone and shouldn't be put in a position of having to say it's ok. What we've got here in the state right now is a group of politicians down in Sacramento who have completely forgotten about you and I and completely forgotten about our kids and our grandkids. We're going to make that change. We are sending a new Attorney General to Sacramento in January 2019 and that's why I'm running and I solicit the support of those in this community to make a change in California."