September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Lawmakers, district attorneys at odds over violent crime bills

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — California lawmakers and district attorneys are at odds over two controversial Senate bills are proposing how to define a violent crime and the punishment behind them.

Senate bills 81 and 82 both stem from the current state penal code defining what is considered a violent crime, but some lawmakers and district attorneys tell FOX40 it needs to change, especially as attacks on Asian Americans are on the rise.

“It’s an enormous problem,” El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said.

Introduced by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, SB 81 would reduce time behind bars for people convicted of non-violent crimes and SB 82 clarifies the differences between theft and robbery under certain circumstances.

Some district attorneys across California say these two bills pose a major problem, citing the recent rise of attacks against the Asian American community.

“Senate Bill 82 would cause a robbery, a strong robbery, to be reduced to petty theft. So all these stories about elderly Asian women being robbed, those cases are now going to become simple petty theft cases,” said Thien Vu Ho, assistant chief deputy district attorney for Sacramento County.

Elk Grove Assemblyman Jim Cooper introduced his legislation in response to the attacks against the AAPI community.

Assembly Bill 266 challenges Sen. Skinner’s bills.

“It’s not crazy,” Cooper said. “All it says is, ‘Hey, if you commit these crimes, and because they shock the public conscience, you don’t get an early release from jail or prison,'” Cooper said.

FOX40 asked Sen. Skinner for an interview but her spokesperson declined and instead says these two bills stemmed from the state’s penal code.

On top of that, Sen. Skinner says both her bills have nothing to do with the recent attacks against the AAPI community and she calls on district attorneys to stop making what she says are false claims about legislation they don’t like.

“Many of the videos that you are seeing right now over and over again would be misdemeanors or nothing under her legislation, and I’m sorry she doesn’t understand it, but those are the facts,” Pierson said.

A spokesperson for Skinner’s office also adds that any person that commits a violent crime or hate crime will be charged accordingly at the State Capitol.

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