I was at the Capitol today with Representative Gauthier pushing for tougher penalties for automobile burglary (aka. motor vehicle tampering). We spoke before the House Judiciary Committee and they passed Rep. Gauthier's bill making the third offense a gross misdemeanor. While it is not exactly what we wanted it is a win for us! It will now go on for a full vote in the House. We had tried for a felony last year, but the potential incarceration costs turned off too many and the bill did not make it past a committee hearing.
When a bill comes before the House or Senate and there are costs associated with it, the appropriate department in State government is asked to come up with a fiscal cost to tax payers. In the case of the car burglary bill last year, the Department of Corrections (DOC) was asked to determine how much increasing the penalty for auto burglary would cost in potential additional inmates. I was astonished to hear the cost that DOC came up with and began to wonder what formula they use to estimate costs because it caused us to lose the chance to pass the tougher penalty. Many cops will tell you auto burglary is probably the most common residential property crime committed (and our stats back it). Why wouldn't we choose to be tougher on those who commit our most common property crime over and over?
Kevin Jacobsen from channel 6 did a great story on an initiative of ours to utilize GPS more in the tracking of our habitual offenders. Thanks Kevin for bringing attention to the need to change our response to in sentencing habitual offenders.