Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TBG's Election Guide: Proposition 5

Summary of Proposition 5:

--Allocates $460,000,000 annually to improve and expand treatment programs for persons convicted of drug and other offenses.

--Limits court authority to incarcerate offenders who commit certain drug crimes, break drug treatment rules or violate parole.

--Substantially shortens parole for certain drug offenses; increases parole for serious and violent felonies.

--Divides Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation authority between two Secretaries, one with six year fixed term and one serving at pleasure of Governor. Provides five year fixed terms for deputy secretaries.

--Creates 19 member board to direct parole and rehabilitation policy.

Even a soft-on-crime elitist like me can see through the holes in this one. I'm fine with the "treatment programs, not prison" approach in certain circumstances for first-time offenders, low-level possession charges and the like. But, Prop. 5 is an overreach.

Treatment programs shouldn't serve as a shield for multiple offenders and Prop. 5 would be a get-out-of-jail-free card for anyone who wanted to use drug use as an excuse for their illicit actions. Besides, in 2000, California passed Prop. 36 – a measure that allowed for first and second-time non-violent drug offenders to avoid jail time for treatment, instead. A UCLA study four years later found that Prop. 36 participants were 48 percent more likely to be rearrested for drug-related crimes within a year of starting treatment than those who didn't go through Prop. 36 avenues.

TBG Votes: No. And, you know what I was thinking the other day? Someone should take the gigantic bureaucracy that is the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and divide them into two gigantic bureaucracies. Thanks Prop. 5!

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