Police, District Attorney's Office frustrated by repeat offender

Oct 29, 2014 8:20 PM

A habitual burglar on felony probation has the Redding Police Department running around in circles, trying to keep him behind bars -- but he keeps getting out.

Redding police and the Shasta County District Attorney's Office say they are fed up with criminals like Christopher Smith, who is in and out of jail with barely any consequence.
They say putting him in jail is easy, but it's a challenge keeping him locked up.

"This guy is a poster child for the criminal justice situation in Shasta County."

36-year old Christopher John Smith has a lengthy rap sheet -- he's been to prison twice, is on felony probation for a series of thefts and vandalism, and most recently identity theft.

"Five years ago he would have gone to prison, and now that's not possible because of AB 109."

When AB 109 passed, non-violent theft crimes became no longer prison eligible.
Redding police have arrested Smith at least half a dozen times since April.

"AB 109 is why he is not in jail today..."

Low police staffing and the lack of rehab programs in recent years, have worked against the Redding Police Department's fight against crime.

"We could have avoided all his recent arrests if we had cleaned him up early on..."

Sgt. Maready says the reality is there are too many people on probation in Redding and Shasta County, and not enough staff to keep them in line.
Now there's a new challenge -- Prop 47.
If it passes, more felony crimes will be reduced to misdemeanors and criminals in prison would become eligible to reduce their sentences -- and in some cases -- end up back on the streets.

"It definitely adds another layer of challenge in the criminal justice system, and those in it who are trying to change this kind of behavior."

Toller says he's prepared to deal with Smith whether or not the proposition passes.

"We've made a decision to charge him with misdemeanors in anticipation of the election results."

Both police and prosecutors say they're frustrated -- but they're not giving up yet.

"We'll keep arresting him again and again until our job is done."

The bottom line is, police and prosecutors want a new state prison and more grant money to fund programs that would help criminals get on the right track.
Smith has multiple misdemeanor cases pending with the Shasta County District Attorney's Office including theft, identity theft and fraudulent activity.


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