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A fugitive, one of San Diego County’s most wanted, was captured early Friday by SWAT team members in Imperial Beach after an eight-hour standoff in a residential neighborhood that left dozens of nearby residents out of their homes.
Jessica Silver, whose husband is deployed overseas most of the time, hid in a back bedroom with her young children while her neighborhood was overrun with officers, police vehicles and negotiators.
It was Ramiro Espinoza, 34, who was taken into custody about 1:15 a.m., according to sheriff’s officers. The standoff developed late Thursday afternoon when there was a report of gun shots and a responding officer approached Espinoza, who fled.
Authorities wanted the fugitive on suspicion of domestic violence, attempted murder, felony assault and having a weapon.
Neighbors told WND that they are worried now over what will happen in Gov. Jerry Brown’s fight over a 2008 Supreme Court ruling that said that overcrowded prisons are a “violation of inmates’ constitutional rights.”
Violent crime is rising in the Golden State, up 2.9 percent in just the last year in California’s largest cities. Rape rose six percent, and property crime rose more than 11 percent.
California was set to spend billions on a new prison system, but public support for further spending dwindled as the economy worsened. Now Brown risks being held in contempt for resisting a court order to reduce the number of prisoners in cramped quarters. The judge ordered California to reduce the number of prisoners to 137.5 percent of capacity. The state prison capacity is currently is at 149 percent.
But Brown insists that California has taken appropriate measures, and said that the state will appeal for a stay or an extension of the deadline. Brown appealed the matter when the U.S. Supreme Court decided against the state a second time, but the judges said this week that since the court already has spoken, there would be no delay or stay.
Lawyers for California contend that some of the most seriously violent criminals, who are very likely to commit more crimes, are among those who will be released if the court refuses to reconsider.
Others say this is politics as usual by an administration with a record of tough talk with little action. Rebekah Evenson, who is lawyer for the prisoners, accuses Brown of “manufacturing a constitutional crisis.”
None of this makes Jessica Silver, the Navy wife who was holed up in her home, hiding her children in a back bedroom while SWAT teams swarmed her home, feel any better.
As she sat holding her four small children in the small hours of the night, too frightened to sleep, she wondered who was fighting for her civil rights.
She spoke exclusively to WND, “If we are having a problem like this (the one in her neighborhood) already, before a bunch more criminals are released, then I don’t think that it is the smartest idea (to release them). I’ve never witnessed a shooting up close like this before and with four small kids hiding in a bedroom… it’s not something I want to experience again, that’s for sure! If they want to save money and space, find somewhere else to put them. Don’t release them just because they might have to rub elbows with another inmate vs. being closer to my children.”
Brown’s “realignment” program has already released around 37,000 dangerous prisoners into the state, and some have re-offended, giving critics fodder for their blasts at the governor.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican who preceded Brown in California, had a plan to come into compliance with the court order dating back to 2006. His $11 billion bond program wasn’t enough for Democrats who controlled the California legislature then. They wanted more funding for programs to fight recidivism, so they fought Schwarzenegger.
Today, records show prisons drain $11.2 billion from the state’s budget every year, and the state spends more on prisoners than on education, health, or transportation.
Brown told Bloomberg, “We can’t spend more and more dollars down the rat hole that is incarceration. We have to spend as much as we need and no more, and I think we’ve hit that point.”