Willful Ignorance and Political Denial

An Open Letter to Governor Newsom

Governor Newsom,

Twice in the past two weeks you have referred to Kern County as “tragically, the homicide capital of California.” Your comments come in response to pointed questions about smash and grab thefts that are plaguing Los Angeles and San Francisco Counties.

Legislation supported and signed by you, radically reducing penalties for criminal behavior, has caused crime to skyrocket throughout California. Kern County leaders have long warned of these consequences. In an effort to divert attention from the disastrous effects of your pro-crime “reform” measures, you point the finger at Kern County.

Be aware that our county’s homicide rate has remained fairly constant over the past four years. In contrast, in Los Angeles, where your mentee and ideological soulmate District Attorney George Gascon has implemented your pro-criminal policies with a vengeance, the homicide rate has gone up an astonishing 40% - in his first year in office!

You claim that criminals should be “caught, prosecuted, and do their time,” but your actions speak louder than your words. During your three years as Governor, you have done everything you could to dismantle the criminal justice system and throw public safety into a state of chaos. You have granted parole to convicted murderers, released 20,000 prison inmates early, and plan to release early an additional 75,000 violent inmates. While gang crime is on the rise, and accounts for most homicides in Kern County, you signed legislation to protect gang members and decriminalize gang crime.

While you proclaim your concern about gun crimes, you approved legislation that allows judges to dismiss sentence enhancements for criminals who shoot and injure or kill. Legislation that you supported ensures that convicted felons and persons with obvious biases against law enforcement must remain on criminal juries, making convictions of the guilty that much more difficult. Recently, you signed a law that mandates only the minimum penalty for felony crimes whenever the criminal is under 26 years old, or anytime the criminal can point to “emotional neglect” in his childhood, whatever his criminal record. Under a law you approved, illegal immigrant criminals can more easily erase their criminal convictions than citizens can, so that they may evade deportation by Federal authorities.

You point to reduced reports of shoplifting, most recently saying that if you revealed the actual statistic “nobody would believe it”. You’re probably right on that front - nobody would believe it - because in the California you have created, merchants and other victims of property crime have realized that reporting such crimes is futile and have stopped doing so.

Under the banner of “reform” you have emboldened crime on all levels. You have boasted about how many prison inmates you have released as if that were an accomplishment deserving of praise. When, predictably, your policies benefitting criminals at every turn resulted in more crime, you claim that the public’s concern is misplaced and feebly attempt to convince us all that our own eyes deceive us. You use the very desperation and under-reporting that you have caused to shield yourself from criticism for the damage you have already done. It would seem you have learned the lesson that your policies have taught criminals – there is no real accountability in California anymore.

I have seen more repeat serious and violent offenders released by your policies in three years than I have seen in my previous thirty years as a prosecutor. I’ve watched members of the minority groups your policies claim to protect get murdered at unprecedented levels. I’ve mourned with the victims’ families who are desperately seeking answers. Your actions have ensured that I cannot provide them with even the most basic assurance regarding how long their loved ones’ killers will be imprisoned once I convict them.

Recently I was present at a crime scene speaking to the grieving father of a child homicide victim. As I attempted to assure him that I would do everything possible to seek justice, the father said, “What difference does it make, Gavin Newsom will just let [the killer] out anyway.”

Governor Newsom, you have failed to protect Californians from crime, but you have succeeded in destroying their confidence in the criminal justice system.


Cynthia Zimmer

Kern County District Attorney

Story First Published: 2022-01-07