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|State of California
|November 2, 2010 Election
POSITIONS ON ATTORNEY GENERAL ISSUES
By Timothy J. HannanCandidate for Attorney General
This information is provided by the candidate
COMBATTING CRIMEThese are my positions on some important issues facing the California Attorney General. Some of these issues concern all levels of government--federal, state, and local. But all of them are of great interest to people living in the State of California. They are divided among these three pages, two issues per page. Use the small scroll bar to the right of the text to scroll up and down the pages. I will be adding comments on other matters, so please check back often.
Crimes are offenses against the public peace. We need to bear in mind that there are different degrees of seriousness in criminal behavior. Some crimes, such as murder, mayhem, and prostitution of children, warrant the exclusion of the criminal from society permanently. Other crimes, such as aggravated assault, robbery, grand theft, and trafficking in dangerous narcotics, warrant long sentences in prison. But eventually the offenders are released from prison. Still other crimes are lesser or victimless offenses, such as petty theft, and adult prostitution. These offenses warrant short sentences in jail or release on probation. We need to take fully into account these varying degrees of crime in the administration of our justice system.
Specifically, I propose six responses to the problem of crime:
First, with respect to those offenders who are serving temporary sentences in state prisons and county jails, they are a captured audience. While they are behind bars, let's provide as many of them as we can with job training programs, substance abuse treatments, and educational programs. If these low-level offenders develop employable skills and at least a fundamental literacy, they are less likely to repeat their crimes. They will leave their confinements with some new skills by which to make an honest living.
Second, we should legalize marijuana. The number of people arrested on marijuana-related charges eclipses the number of all those arrested for murder, rape, robbery, and assault combined. The police are currently much too preoccupied with arresting non-violent marijuana users rather than apprehending violent criminals. Legalizing marijuana will relieve the congestion in our prisons, and allow police resources to be directed against hardcore criminals. (Incidentally, legalizing marijuana may also generate millions in sales tax revenue.)
Third, we need to honor the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Heller v. District of Columbia case that the Second Amendment recognizes an individual's right to bear arms. Owning and carrying a gun is an individual right, not a collective right. According to a recent study at the University of Chicago, the 31 states with concealed carry laws (which allow law-abiding citizens to carry a weapon) saw their murder rates fall 8.5 percent faster than states without such laws. Statistics further show that Americans use guns about 2.5 million times a year to stop crime--in most cases without firing a shot. Deterrence works. For example, law-abiding citizens in Florida have been able to carry concealed weapons since 1987. During that time, the murder rate in Florida declined more than 20 percent faster that the national rate. What's more, if ever the government becomes so overbearing as to be intolerable, an armed citizenry will be holding a powerful remedy.
Fourth, we need to equip our state and local law enforcement authorities with state-of-the-art communication and information sharing equipment. For example, police could use more shot-spotting equipment, which by triangulation quickly identifies the precise location of a firearm after it is discharged. Police could also use more license scanning equipment by which to check auto license plates in gang hot zones for known and suspected gang members. Using such high-tech equipment will enable police to arrest and deter criminal activity more quickly and efficiently.
Fifth, we need to make sure that precinct captains and other local police commanders receive statistical information about criminal activity immediately. Criminologists tell us that there is often a pattern to criminal behavior. If each community's police force has a method for rapidly assembling and distributing crime statistics in no more than one day, it will give commanders a clear picture of what's been happening almost in real time. Commanders may then discern criminal patterns and respond to them rapidly and effectively. Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton has had great success deploying this method.
Sixth, we must respond more intelligently to the growing problem of criminal, anti-social behavior of young people in gangs. At the root of the problem is hopelessness. Most young people who join gangs do so because they feel hopeless and powerless to make it in life on their own. So they turn to juvenile gangs, which in turn are heavily funded by the sale of illegal drugs. Of course, we must have the juvenile justice system to hold youths accountable for their actions. But we can also take some actions to give them hope. One good idea is to partner as many as we can with other youths who have overcome gang dependency or drug addiction. In south Los Angeles, a group of former gang members called "The Businessmen" share their stories and their views with current gang members. "The Businessmen" show the current gang members that the way they are going leads to nowhere, and encourage them to work toward good jobs and strong family lives. In Orange County, a similar program called "Shortstop" is under way, sponsored by the Orange County Bar Foundation. These are successful programs. In San Francisco, police are forming partnerships called Community Response Networks with parents, shopkeepers, coaches, and others who care. CRN teams proactively reach out to young people on the streets to gather intelligence about impending gang activity. Then they alert the police and transport youths at risk away from danger, thus helping prevent and deter crime. As Attorney General, I will work with county district attorneys to foster more of these programs.
PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT
Of course we need to protect the environment. We all live in it. But we need to care for the environment intelligently and efficiently. Simply relying on the government is not the answer. In my view, the biggest single threat to our environment is the notion that the government has to control it. The government is by far the biggest polluter, all the while exempting itself from the regulations it imposes on the private sector of the economy. But what really poses danger to the environment is the reliance so many place on the government to take care of it. When resources such as forests, lakes, streams and minerals are "owned" by the public, they are effectively owned by no one. No one has an incentive or motivation to maintain the value of an asset or use it on a sustainable basis. Historically, when timber companies harvested trees in national forests, they clear-cut the land. But on their own land, they replanted to renew their money-making asset. Why did buffaloes become an endangered species while cows did not? Because cows were owned and cared for. In general, private owners take better care of resources than do public owners. Wherever feasible, we should move toward privatization of natural resources so that private owners can exercise proper stewardship.
In recent times, the government has taken environmentalism to some ridiculous extremes. Government has ruled that the preservation of frogs and salamanders is more important than the needs of human beings for housing. Government has imposed crippling regulations on industries which use oil and gas and coal, with rippling effects through the economy. We will do much better to rely on the incentive-driven private sector to protect the environment. Free-market or market-oriented responses to environmental problems that have developed recently include tradeable emission permits, markets for recyclable trading, and green performance standards (instead of government regulations imposing clumsy and arbitrary pollution reductions). The construction industry, for example, on its own is readily seeking and implementing green building materials and methods in response to consumers' demand for greener products. There are no perfect solutions; but these are good examples of how we can protect the environment without politicizing it and without imposing unnecessary taxes and regulations on our economy.
As Attorney General, I will enforce the environmental laws sensibly. I will balance the need to protect the environment with the need to allow our free-enterprise economy to grow. After all, if the economy does not prosper, the government won't be able to collect the revenue it may need to help protect the environment.
Position Paper 2
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