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 Criminal justice issues must have weighed heavily on his heart when he was using cocaine in his home, caught on a withdrawn YouTube clip (which is concededly real, as Nicholas threatened to sue because it 'violated his privacy).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.
The Guest PD Blogger