Backers of the new dramatic shift in California’s sentencing say it will send only those convicted of nonviolent or non-serious crimes to county jails instead of state prison, a change designed to save the state money and reduce inmate crowding. A review by the Associated Press of crimes that qualify for local sentences shows at least two dozen offenses shifting to local control that can be considered serious or violent. Among them: Involuntary manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, killing or injuring a police officer while resisting arrest, participating in a lynching, possession of weapons of mass destruction, possessing explosives, threatening a witness or juror, and using arson or explosives to terrorize a health facility or church.
“These crimes include a variety of offenses that would strike many civilians as far from trivial,” says Public Policy Institute of California researcher Dean Misczynski. A list of 500 criminal code sections to be covered by the law was compiled by the California District Attorneys Association. Among those who could be affected if convicted is Dr. Conrad Murray, on trial for involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson. He would serve his maximum four-year sentence in a Los Angeles County jail instead of state prison.