About a week ago, I, along with some friends, read a shocking article in the SF Chronicle detailing a plan by the Contra Costa County DA to stop prosecuting misdemeanors and certain drug felonies. To quote the article, “People who are suspected of misdemeanor drug crimes, break minor traffic laws, shoplift, trespass or commit misdemeanor vandalism will also be in the clear,” but that “prosecutors will still consider charging suspects with certain misdemeanors, including domestic violence, driving under the influence, firearms offenses, vehicular manslaughter, sex crimes and assault with a deadly weapon.” The full article is here.
Hey criminal breathren, want a new hard drive? Go to Contra Costa County’s Best Buy and steal one! You won’t be prosecuted! Hey rapists, want to grope people? Go to Contra Costa County! If it’s not too egregious, no one will prosecute you! Need a place to stay? Just sleep on any private property in Contra Costa County! The police won’t prosecute you for trespassing!
You get the idea.
Of course, we were skeptical when we read this. No DA in his/her right mind would do this. Yet, this was an article in the Chronicle. They wouldn’t even do this on April Fools Day. I later checked Google News for more news, and found that this was indeed, shockingly, true.
I checked for updates on the situation every few days to see how the major public outcry would affect the DA’s decision, and to see if Contra Costa County would spiral down to what may be later referred to euphemistically in the history books as “America’s Dystopian Experiment of the Economic Crisis of 2009.”
Fortunately, as another Chronicle article (and many other sources) later reported, this was all a huge bluff that DA Robert Kochly engineered to force the Board of Supervisors and the general public to recognize law enforcement’s need for a basic level of funding, even during economic downturns.
I do feel sympathetic for Kochly and his strained organization.