Saturday, August 23, 2008

Whoa - There is a GOOD Initiative on the Ballot

My last post was about Proposition 6, on the 11-4-08 ballot. It is called the "Son of Three Strikes," and it is bad, bad, bad. Well, there is another bad initiative on the ballot, and it is likewise bad. Proposition 9, also known as "Marsey's Law," was created and supported initially by Henry Nicholas, who gave more than $4 million to get the ball rolling. This is the same Henry Nicholas who bankrolled the super-bad Proposition 6, the "Son of Three Strikes." And this is also the same Henry Nicholas who is the Orange County billionaire former CEO of BroadCom who has been indicted in federal court for various things like providing drugs and hookers to his guests at various parties, and backdating stock options. Criminal justice issues must have weighed heavily on his heart when he was using cocaine in his home, caught on a withdrawn YouTube clip (which is concededly real, as Nicholas threatened to sue because it 'violated his privacy). http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/07/business/fi-nicholas7

But there is a GOOD initiative on the ballot as well. Proposition 5, bankrolled initially by George Soros (he was one of the funders of the 2000 Proposition 36 Drug Treatment Proposition that passed at the same time as Proposition 21, the Proposition that greatly increased Three Strikes) (but for only $1 - he's cheaper on these things than Nicholas, it seems), is a decent change in the law. Here is a description for it. My last link to Ballotpedia.wiki didn't seem to stick, so try this: I have linked to the main website. All you have to do is go to the encyclopedia on the left, go to California , then California 2008 ballot measures, and you can see Proposition 5, 6 and 9 there. Here is the general link to ballotpedia.org: http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page Here is the link directly to Proposition 5:http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/California_Proposition_5_%282008%29 I hope that it works.

Here is their summary of what Prop. 5 does:

"Requires California to expand and increase funding and oversight for individualized treatment and rehabilitation programs for nonviolent drug offenders and parolees.

Reduces criminal consequences of nonviolent drug offenses by mandating three-tiered probation with treatment and by providing for case dismissal and/or sealing of records after probation.

Limits court’s authority to incarcerate offenders who violate probation or parole.

Shortens parole for most drug offenses, including sales, and for nonviolent property crimes.

Creates numerous divisions, boards, commissions, and reporting requirements regarding drug treatment and rehabilitation.

Changes certain marijuana misdemeanors to infractions."

My personal opinion is that the drug war is and has been an abysmal failure. I will write on this subject at a later time. But this initiative is an excellent start. The problem is that this initiative is in direct conflict with Propositions 6 and 9. I have serious doubts about how they can work together. If Prop. 5 and Prop. 6 pass at the same time, we will have the remarkable sight of seeing marijuana possession reduced to an infraction, at the same time that meth possession is increased to a straight felony. Bizarre.

And the idea that all 3 of these propositions will pass at the same time is not really unlikely. On March 7, 2000 the California electorate passed Proposition21 by 62.1% to 37.9%, which vastly increased the Three Strikes law and greatly increased penalties for youth offenders, especially so-called gang-related offenders. Later in the same year, on November 7, 2000, Proposition 36 passed by 60.8% to 39.2%. Now, in fairness, there wasn't as much legal interaction between Propositions 21 and 36 (and Proposition 21 won every close call in the courts), but the message from the electorate was clear: punish real criminals severely, but give drug simple offenders somewhere else to go besides prison. This sort of message could easily resonate with the electorate in November, but Proposition 5 is STARKLY different from Propositions 6 and 9. If all three pass (my prediction = they will), the chaos will be extreme and the result will be an even more screwed up criminal justice system in California than we already have.

There is also currently a technical challenge to Proposition 5 pending in court. We'll see how this works out. This is going to be a challenging election in California for criminal law issues.

Dennis Wilkins
The Guest PD Blogger

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog, which I enjoy. I'm a DPD in L.A. County and have represented hundreds of prohibition violators. I'm an abolitionist. Prop 5 is a problem for those who want to end the drug war. It actually will perpetuate the drug war by sugarcoating its injustice. It's chief financier, Mr. Soros, champions the drug war's most insidious face -- coercive rehabilitation. Under this drug war facet, it's OK to use force to cause users stop using. But forcing adults to stop using narcotics by "treating" them with "carrots and sticks" is called brainwashing, and is evil.

The initiative is an example of the Left's re-branding of the Drug War. Its preamble, in the in-vogue metaphor, calls "addiction" a "disease." These terms are popular among my colleagues, but insult our clients' dignity. Labeling their anti-social, deviant or unpopular behavior "a disease" makes it palatable to the voters and judges to continue to use force against them.

Jail? Well, it is only to "treat" a patient, not to punish a criminal. "It hurts me," says the progressive judge, "more to jail this poor addict than it will hurt her to do the time. Counsel, I bet she'll thank me." This, at least in California, is an increasingly easier sell, than Chief Gates' Drug War from the right, "casual drug users ought to be shot." But the tyranny is indistinguishable: adults are forbidden by law from pursuing happiness by possessing and ingesting certain chemicals and plants.

Thus, to a person who wants to use narcotics, Prop 5 is a kinder, gentler machine gun hand -- that's all.

And what does the initiative do for my clients who sell narcotics? Nothing. They remain full force Drug War targets. Coercive rehabilitation proponents are quite content to vilify and to hunt sellers, and to punish them harshly.

BH (Los Angeles)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog, which I enjoy. I'm a DPD in L.A. County and have represented hundreds of prohibition violators. I'm an abolitionist. Prop 5 is a problem for those who want to end the drug war. It actually will perpetuate the drug war by sugarcoating its injustice. Prop 5's chief financier, Mr. Soros, champions the drug war's most insidious face -- coercive rehabilitation. Under this drug war facet, it's OK to use force to cause users to stop using. But forcing adults to stop using narcotics by "treating" them with "carrots and sticks" is called brainwashing, and is evil.

The initiative is an example of the Left's re-branding of the drug war. The measure's preamble uses the in-vogue medical metaphor, calling the habitual use of narcotics "addiction" and a "disease." These terms are popular among my colleagues, but they insult our clients' dignity. To label a person's anti-social, deviant or unpopular behavior "a disease" makes it palatable to the public and to judges to continue to use force.

Jail? Well, it is only to "treat" a "patient," not to punish a criminal. "It hurts me," says the progressive judge, "more to jail this poor addict than it will hurt her to do the time. Counsel, I bet she'll thank me." This paternalism, at least in California, is an increasingly easier sell, than former Chief Gates' drug war from the right, "casual drug users ought to be shot." But the tyranny is indistinguishable: adults are forbidden by law from pursuing happiness by possessing and ingesting certain chemicals and plants.

Thus, to a person who wants to use narcotics, Prop 5 is a kinder, gentler machine gun hand -- that's all.

And what does the initiative do for my clients who sell narcotics? Nothing. They remain full force Drug War targets. Coercive rehabilitation proponents are quite content to vilify and to hunt sellers, and to punish them harshly.

BH (Los Angeles)

Rechtsanwalt said...

I think this is a good sign and the elections seem to get a good percentage here. This will be a tough competition here.

Anonymous said...

There was an excellent letter to the Opinion Section in the L.A Times...which more or less said that when enough Sharia law followers accumulate, they can simply just use the flawed initiative process to enact Sharia law on all California. I know this is an extreme example. But for a 14 year old being forced to become a suicide bomber or one that wrongly gets convicted by hearsay ( like NIcholas prop.6 makes hearsay evidence more admissable ), the difference may not be that distinguishable.

manoj said...

The office is staffed by committed, passionate, yet down-to-earth attorneys who aren’t afraid to laugh at some of the things that roll through the place. I’m impressed by both their compassion and their skills as advocates.
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Dinesh

Drug Rehabilitation Programs

brianna said...

Hello this is Brianna visiting first time to this site and find it very interesting. I really like to join it.and really want to continue the discussion with this site..

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brianna

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napali66 said...

did prop 6 pass?? no such thing as a misd meth case here in HI