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Should the "Three Strikes" law be limited to violent and/or serious felonies? Permits limited re-sentencing under new definitions. Increases punishment for specified sex crimes against children.
Official Summary and Arguments
Proposition 66 limits "Three Strikes" law to violent and/or serious felonies. Permits limited re-sentencing under new definitions. Increases punishment for specified sex crimes against children. Fiscal Impact: Over the long run, net state savings of up to several hundred million dollars annually, primarily to the prison system: local jail and court-related costs of potentially more than ten million dollars annually.
Voter Information Guide (pdf)
A YES vote on this measure means:
The current "Three Strikes" sentencing law would be amended to require that a second and third strike offense be a serious or violent felony, instead of any felony, in order for the longer sentences required under Three Strikes to apply. The state would be required to resentence "third strikers" whose third strike was nonviolent and nonserious. In addition, prison sentences for specified sex offenses against children would be lengthened.
A NO vote on this measure means:
Current sentencing law would remain in effect, requiring offenders with one or more prior convictions for serious or violent felonies to receive longer sentences for the conviction of any new felony (not just a serious or violent felony). In addition, prison sentences for certain sex offenses against children would remain unchanged.
Arguments FOR Proposition 66
Proposition 66 restores three strikes to its original intent--ensuring criminals currently serving time for violent offenses are kept in prison, saving taxpayers billions of dollars currently wasted imprisoning shoplifters and other nonviolent, petty offenders for life. Proposition 66 protects children with tougher 1-Strike sentences for child molesters. Yes on Proposition 66.
Arguments AGAINST Proposition 66
Proposition 66 is opposed by Governor Schwarzenegger, the Attorney General, all 58 District Attorneys, the state's leading law enforcement, taxpayer, and child protection groups. Costs millions and threatens public safety by creating a legal loophole that could release an estimated 26,000 convicted felons-- including rapists, child molesters, and murderers.
Against Proposition 66
Nonpartisan Background and Analysis
Selected Articles, Editorials, Opinions, Reports
Soros, 2 others give financial boost to three strikes ballot measure
San Diego Union-Tribune, September 14, 2004
parents fight '3-strikes' change
rare escape from 3-strikes law
voters change 'three strikes' law this fall?
strikes' campaign splits Klaas family
Last updated on September 30, 2004
"The religious community is essential, for alone our
vision is too narrow to see all that must be seen.
For Proposition 66
Commentary 1: "A collect call from
I got a collect phone call from my young friend Billy yesterday. From jail. Not that I was surprised. He's been stealing since he was 13 - sometimes from me, other times from his family (yes, even the food stamps, and yes, I'm still angry). Once I brought him to a Halloween party at my UU church. He stole money from the purses women left in the pews. This time it's armed robbery.
Jail is not as horrible as I had thought it was, when it was an abstract concept and I was a liberal who didn't know any ghetto kids. He hates it, but when he's in jail, he attends the classes. He hasn't been to school for 5 years. When he's in jail he attends to anger management meetings, where he talks about the violence in his childhood and how that has affected him.
I've always voted against money for prisons. But I don't really want BILLY to be out of jail. I've seen how people can commit crimes over and over without getting arrested. I'm taking all of these experiences and thoughts and feelings into consideration when I think about the 3-Strikes Law.
Despite all my frustration with Billy, I don't agree with any law that limits the possibilities for taking the specific circumstances and history of a situation into account. The 3-Strikes law doesn't leave room for considering other interventions, other possible ways of changing someone's behavior. It doesn't distinguish between violent and nonviolent felonies. It mandates a specific kind of intervention for all cases - the harshness of the penal system. There are times when someone's life will change because they had to face a severe penalty for what they did. And there are times when someone's life will change because they were given one more chance. We can't make a blanket rule that covers all cases.
Ultimately, I trust the judges, the caseworkers, the probation officers to do their best to decide how to deal with my friend Billy. I want them to be able to think flexibly about what he's done, what the pattern of his behavior is, and what might work to turn him around. I don't want to hamstring them by requiring that they deal with his case in a particular way, not when I still have hope that he may someday change. For that reason, I support Proposition 66, which will amend the 3-Strikes law, so that nonviolent felonies don't count as a third strike.
"Under a government which imprisons any unjustly,
Commentary 2: "Not knowing often gets us into trouble"
Not knowing often gets us into trouble as individuals, groups, and societies. That is where we are, to a large degree, in our understanding of what we are doing about a law voted on by most of us, in ignorance--being misled--in 1996, called familiarly "The Three Strikes Law." We now, finally, have an opportunity to amend that law which has developed into, essentially, a crime in and of itself. So, in behalf of education, decency, and wisdom, let us review some facts.
California, a state with devastating budget problems, because of the current Three Strikes Law, is choosing to spend a million dollars to lock up a man for life, regardless of the innocuousness of the crime. It is an appalling choice of where to place resources, and an appalling decision to do terrible damage to our poorest communities.
There is really no negative political consequence to being tough on crime, and there are enormous political risks to supporting reduced use of incarceration.
As regards the voting opportunity on November: until we build a constituency for criminal justice change, America will continue in its addiction to punishment because the short-term fix is so compelling and the long-term consequences fall on other people's shoulders. Ballot measure, Proposition 66 would amend our current California "Three Strikes Law" to:
The goal: reduce the crime rate in the rest of California to match the greater drops in the crime rates in those counties who have not applied "Three Strikes" to non-violent petty offenders.
Against Proposition 66
No commentary was received prior to our deadline. Please add your opinion and voice to the discussion below.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter."
SUPPORTERS SAY Proposition 66 would preserve the original intent of the Three Strikes law - keeping violent, dangerous criminals in prison. At the same time, it would create harsher penalties for child molesters and remove repeat offenders from society for life. The cost savings are potentially $700 million a year in prison operating costs, and more than $1 billion in new prison construction.
OPPONENTS SAY Proposition 66 weakens the definition of violent or serious crime, and allows the release of dangerous repeat offenders. They say it will cost the state millions for resentencing, and potentially billions more to deal with added crime after dangerous criminals are released. Opponents say that judges already have the power to reduce sentences for non-violent crimes, if appropriate in a given situation.
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