By Rina Palta
PORAC has one of the largest legal defense funds in country–and contributed to the defense of Johannes Mehserle.
With so much focus on the California Correctional Peace Officers Association as a political juggernaut, another influential law enforcement group in Sacramento seldom gets its due: the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC).
PORAC came to some Bay Area people’s attention during the trial of Johannes Mehserle, the former BART officer convicted of involuntary manslaughter for killing Oscar Grant. PORAC’s legal defense fund, apparently the largest such fund in the country, covered Mehserle’s legal bills.
Besides providing legal help to law enforcement accused of wrongdoing, PORAC invests heavily in political lobbying, according to a new report by the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice. Specifically, CJCJ found that PORAC put $3,322,164 on direct contributions between 2003-2010. Of that, 41 percent was spent on lobbying for or against ballot initiatives, such as their pro-stance on such “tough on crime” measures as Proposition 9 and Proposition 83. Proposition 9 makes it more difficult for inmates sentenced to crimes like murder to be granted parole. Proposition 83, “Jessica’s Law,” increased the supervision and living restrictions for registered sex offenders.