In his effort to pass a ballot measure to make certain nonviolent felons eligible for early release, Gov. Jerry Brown has turned to direct confrontation – scolding a California sheriff in a voice mail for what he called a “malicious” mailer opposing the measure.
“Hey Margaret, I got that mailing on Prop. 57 that you signed,” Brown said in a message received by Margaret Mims, the sheriff of Fresno County, and obtained by The Sacramento Bee.
In the voice mail, Brown objected to campaign’s distribution of a card featuring a prisoner that “you said would be released under my proposition.”
“I just want you to know that’s completely false, and that makes that mailer extremely false, and I would even say malicious,” Brown, a Democrat, told the sheriff, a Republican.
He accused Mims of employing “scare tactics that I think are unbecoming of a public official, and certainly will not build the kind of mutual respect and trust that we all need to do our jobs.”
Opponents of Brown’s measure have been distributing sportslike trading cards with photographs of prisoners convicted of heinous crimes under the headline, “Meet your new neighbor.” Though it was unclear what prisoner was featured in the card Brown received, Proposition 57 does not define what constitutes a “nonviolent” crime, and opponents of the measure have sought to highlight criminals convicted of such “nonviolent” crimes as certain kinds of rape.
The Brown administration has said it anticipates implementing regulations to carry out Proposition 57 that would disqualify from early release inmates who must register as sex offenders, though that language is not written into his measure.
Brown told Mims, “This guy was sentenced to 100 years, and he’s a registered sex offender, and on both accounts would not be getting out.”
Referring to an upcoming meeting of sheriffs, Brown told Mims, “So, that’s all I can say. Maybe I’ll see you up at the sheriffs’ meeting. Thanks.”
Asked about the voice mail on Wednesday, Brown said, “Very thoughtful, I thought.”
Mims confirmed in a statement that she received the voicemail.
“After listening to it, I took the measure of reconfirming that the inmate in the mailer is in fact eligible for release if the Governor's initiative passes. It is troublesome that the Governor is not aware of the details of his own initiative.”