Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims is not too pleased with California’s zero-bail policy for some criminals.
Mims, who has been in law enforcement in the Golden State since 1980, says the state’s policy of releasing criminals with no bail is keeping her department so busy that she can’t enforce Gov. Gavin Newsom’s draconian stay-at-home order.
Mims has little concern for harassing law-abiding citizens when there are so many repeat offenders walking around using their “get out of jail free” cards to get themselves back into trouble.
Mims joined the “Trevor Carey Show” on Fresno’s KALZ-FM on Tuesday to discuss the topic of enforcing California’s lockdown order.
“I’ve heard multiple sheriffs around the nation-state they will not enforce their governors’ shelter-in-place orders. Is that your position?” Carey asked the sheriff.
Mims didn’t mince words in her response.
“That is my position. We do not stop the public to find out what they’re doing when they’re not sheltering in place. We don’t ask those questions, we don’t ask if they’re ‘essential,’” she told the show.
“We’ve got our hands full trying to re-arrest people that are released due to zero-dollar bail. So, we’ve got other things on our mind that are more important than stopping normally law-abiding citizens,” the sheriff added.
Indeed, two days after Mims made the comments about re-arresting criminals who are out of jail thanks to California’s zero-bail policy, police in Fresno were led on a chase by a man who allegedly stole a car, and it wasn’t the first time he was accused of doing it.
KMPH-TV reported that a man with a long rap sheet was arrested Thursday after he allegedly stole a Ford Fusion in Fresno.
The Fresno Police Department pursued 34-year-old Andres Zuniga before ultimately pulling away after his erratic driving became a public safety risk.
But thanks in part to a helicopter from Mims’ office, Zuniga was tracked and ultimately arrested.
Zuniga was arrested in February and was being held on a $146,000 bail for allegedly stealing a car, hit-and-run and then resisting arrest, but he was released on April 10 thanks to California’s no bail policy for low-level offenders.
Mims spoke to KMPH after the chase and had more harsh words for the policy.
“Well, it was predictable that once criminals got out of jail — especially the career criminals — they were going to re-offend,” she said.
More than 700 alleged criminals have been released on zero bail since April 9, according to information provided to the station by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff says 87 of them have been re-arrested.
“The percentage of re-arrests is rapidly increasing. When I checked it just a few days ago, it was less than 10 percent so it’s going up. And remember that the state-measured recidivism over a 3-year-period is at 70 percent, so we’re up to 12 percent already in just a month, so that’s going to increase as well,” Mims said.
The majority of Zuniga’s alleged crimes from Thursday will not require a cash bail for release, minus a $5,000 bail for a charge of looting.
That means that the man can be released from jail for only $500.
Mims predicted criminals with zero or minimum bail will further burden her office, which will have to track them down them when they fail to show up for their court dates.
“These criminals are getting a citation to appear with a court date. So they’re going to be in the system, they are going to be held accountable. However, we’re going to have to go out and find them again, because they won’t show up in court. The vast majority will not show up,” she told KMPH.
California announced the zero-bail policy last month after an emergency meeting from the state’s Judicial Council as a way to reduce inmate populations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Many inmates have been almost immediately re-arrested.
On April 29, police in Glendora, California, arrested the same man three times in one day, thanks to the no-bail policy, KTVU reported.
Dijon Landrum, 24, was arrested three times in less than 24 hours for allegedly stealing two cars and attempting to steal another. Each time the man was released from jail, he was back in custody within hours.
Despite the third arrest of the day, Landrum was again released, although he wasn’t arrested a fourth time.
As California essentially criminalizes normal behavior, such as working or going to church for law-abiding citizens, actual criminals are being given a pass to harm communities and to make a mockery of the criminal justice system.
At least one sheriff is willing to call it like it is.
Fresno County has become a sanctuary for sanity, thanks to Sheriff Mims.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.