The California Experiment

How the state’s at­tempts to re­duce in­car­cer­a­tion is re­shap­ing Cali­for­nia’s justice sys­tem

Na­tion­al donors and Su­per PACs worked with com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions and vo­lun­teers to elect a lib­er­al pro­sec­utor in Chica­go, what this post-elec­tion ana­lys­is called a “blue­print” for fu­ture elec­tions.

After Mi­chael Mejia was caught re­peatedly vi­ol­at­ing the terms of his re­lease from pris­on, a Los Angeles County pro­ba­tion of­ficer re­com­men­ded he be sent to jail for a month and then placed in a court-ordered res­id­en­tial drug treat­ment cen­ter. The of­ficer cata­loged his re­peated rule break­ing, in­clud­ing his as­so­ci­ation with gang mem­bers, re­fus­al to enter drug treat­ment and con­tinu­ing drug use.

An East Los Angeles gang mem­ber vi­ol­ated the terms of his pro­ba­tion mul­tiple times in the months be­fore he was ac­cused of killing a Whit­ti­er po­lice of­ficer. Weeks be­fore the shoot­ing, a pro­ba­tion of­ficer re­com­men­ded he be jailed for three months and then sent to a court-ordered in­pa­tient drug treat­ment pro­gram, but au­thor­it­ies in­stead sent him to jail for only a month.

Mi­chael Mejia, an ad­mit­ted East Los Angeles gang mem­ber, men­tioned one of Cali­for­nia’s key justice re­forms in his state­ment to hom­icide de­tect­ives ex­plain­ing why he killed a Whit­ti­er po­lice of­ficer last year. In the state­ment, he com­plained that As­sembly Bill 109 — known as AB109 — had res­ul­ted in au­thor­it­ies re­peatedly try­ing to lock up gang mem­bers like him. The 2011 law, which is one of sev­er­al key justice re­forms ...

Years be­fore he was charged with killing a Whit­ti­er po­lice of­ficer and a cous­in, Mi­chael Mejia was con­victed of a gang-re­lated rob­bery in which he struck his vic­tim with a base­ball bat. The 2010 crime res­ul­ted in his first pris­on stint.

Mi­chael Mejia, an ad­mit­ted East Los Angeles gang mem­ber, is charged with murder in con­nec­tion with the shoot­ing of two Whit­ti­er po­lice of­ficers in Feb­ru­ary 2017. Of­ficer Keith Boy­er was killed and Of­ficer Patrick Hazell was wounded. Earli­er in the day, the com­plaint al­leges, Mejia killed his cous­in, Roy Torres. Pro­sec­utors are seek­ing the death pen­alty. Mejia has pleaded not guilty.