There are only so many places to lock people up, and it’s so expensive to build new places to lock people up, that a state lawmaker is trying to find a better medium. State Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) says he wants to punish all criminals while doing a better job of putting the most dangerous ones in prison. Zalewski says one of his new bills would give judges more leeway while allowing the laws to remain tough on crime.
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“Yes, we want them to be tough. Yes, there needs to be more consequence than there is right now on the books. But we also want to include judicial discretion,” says Zalewski. “I believe my bill is the first time we’ve tried to integrate judicial discretion into a tougher gun sentence.”
Other bills Zalewski has filed would: allow domestic violence victims claiming self-defense in their own convictions to present evidence at sentencing; make the provision stiffening the sentence when a drug crime is committed near a school apply only when students could be actually there; and increase the number of prior convictions from one to two for a retail theft to be increased to a felony.