Now, California is considering another law stirring controversy, notes columnist Terry McLaughlin, who writes for The Union newspaper of Grass Valley, California.
AB 1810, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in June, will "imperil the safety of our very lives."
"Buried deep in AB 1810 is a provision which allows a defendant claiming to suffer from a mental disorder to be granted pre-trial diversion for any crime, if a judge agrees the disorder played a significant role in the commission of the crime," she explains, noting district attorneys already have been protesting the requirement.
"This means criminal proceedings are halted for up to two years, and if there is 'substantial compliance' by the defendant within that time, the bill would 'require the court to dismiss the defendant's criminal charges … and the arrest deemed never to have occurred, and would require the court to order access to the record of the arrest restricted.' (Section 15, AB 1810)."
And there are no exceptions, she wrote, with its benefits applying to "murderers, rapists, robbers, child molesters and arsonists."
"According to Michele Hanisee, a spokesperson for the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, 'a defendant charged with any crime can get those charges dismissed if they convince a judge the mental disorder they suffer from played a 'major' role in the charged crime; if a mental health expert says the symptoms motivating the criminal behavior would respond to treatment; and if the defendant undergoes 'treatment' during a diversion period with no minimum time period and a maximum of two years,'" McLaughlin explained.