Proposition 36 threatens our safety, economy

The short-form summary for Proposition 36 says it “Revises law to impose life sentence only when a new felony conviction is serious or violent.”

In 1994 California voters passed Proposition 184, known as the three-strikes law. It increased prison sentences for repeat felons, and it worked. California’s crime rate dropped 37 percent in the first four years and it has remained low. While all states have seen drops in crime, none have dropped as far as in California after implementation of the three-strikes.

If voters approve the Proposition 36 three-strikes law revision on the Nov. 6 ballot, it may give certain persons a chance to avoid prison or jail for convictions such as possessing illegal drugs or abusing drugs while on parole. Drug offenders may conclude that there is no consequence for failing or refusing treatment, and they may continue to abuse drugs. As a result, treatment will be less effective and the drug problem may become worse.

Proposition 36 is not limited to “non violent” drug users. Persons convicted of possessing “date rape” drugs will be given the chance to remain on the street under Proposition 36. This threatens public safety and also hurts our ability to help drug abusers try to overcome their addiction with proper treatment and programs. This is a very dangerous initiative that would allow almost 3,000 of California’s three-strikes prison inmates to be re-sentenced and/ or released.

Many California voters will support this proposition because it promises to save millions of dollars in tax money by reducing sentences for inmates for non-violent crimes. However, former California director of finance Jesse Huff warns that the ultimate costs of this initiative are far higher than its promised savings.

Huff estimates Proposition 36 will cost taxpayers $660 million in new, additional funding for drug treatment during a five and one-half year span and could result in millions of dollars in hidden costs for law enforcement and court expenses.

On Nov. 6, vote NO on Proposition 36.