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The legislative session ended September 30 with some good bills passing and some bad bills for public safety becoming law. In addition to focusing on legislation this year, we are also tasked with making decisions on ballot initiatives that will appear on the November ballot. There are two initiative on the ballot this year that will greatly effect public safety; Proposition 34 and Proposition 36.
Proposition 34 is a measure that would repeal the death penalty. CVAA opposes prop. 34. We encourage you to visit www.waitingforjustice.net to find out more about prop. 34.
A Message From Waitingforjustice.net
regarding Prop. 34
Few California residents over the age of 35 can forget the horrible summer in 1985, when despite the heat, people slept with their windows closed and locked because a serial killer called “The Night Stalker” was terrorizing the southland with a string of brutal rape-torture-murders. Eventually Richard Ramirez was caught, charged and convicted of thirteen murders and numerous additional assaults and rapes. Today he sits on death row, but in two short months that could change if Proposition 34 passes.â€¨â€¨The dirty secret that Proposition 34 supporters don’t want you to know is who is behind this initiative. The majority of funding for Proposition 34 comes from the ACLU – which has long opposed the death penalty – and from wealthy out-of-state donors who want to impose their views on Californians. So while a bill entitled, “SAFE California” sounds appealing, voters need to look at the real agenda of those behind this initiative and how they are trying to manipulate the voters at the expense of public safety. â€¨â€¨Proposition 34 claims it will make murderers work in prison and pay restitution to crime victims. This clause sounds like a persuasive reason to support the initiative – but the fact is, this is already the law! The only reason to include this ineffective clause is to fool voters into thinking this initiative is tough on crime.â€¨â€¨Proposition 34 claims it will save hundreds of millions of dollars by eliminating death penalty trials and appeals. But Proposition 34 proponents make some basic accounting errors. They include fixed costs. They don’t account for the fact that defendants facing life without parole still get a trial and still get appeals. And they don’t account for the cost of housing these brutal murderers and providing them with medical care for the rest of their lives. The ACLU does everything they can to make sure that prison inmates get better medical care at taxpayer expense than the average taxpayer. Just last year in Wisconsin, the ACLU sued to force taxpayers to pay for sex-change-drugs for a prison inmate. â€¨â€¨Proposition 34 will spend $100 million in taxpayers dollars regardless of whether any savings occur. That money will be automatically transferred from the General Fund where it could be used for any purpose, to the control of the Attorney General.â€¨â€¨The one thing Proposition 34 supporters don’t want to talk about are the crimes committed by death row inmates. The killers currently on death row are responsible for:
235 murders of children;
43 murders of peace officers;
225 murders involving sexual assault; and
90 murders involving torture.
Death row is populated by murderers whose crimes are unspeakable. Lawrence Bittaker, “The Toolbox Killer,” tape recorded the screams of his teenage rape victims as he tortured them with pliers and ice-picks. Serial rapist, Robert Rhoades kidnapped 8-year-old Michael Lyons as Michael was walking home from school. For ten horrific hours, Rhoades sodomized and tortured Michael, inflicting over seventy non-lethal stab wounds before slitting his throat and dumping his body in a ditch by the river. Vicente Benavides sodomized a one-year-old infant to death. Serial killers like Charles Ng, Chester Turner and Wesley Shermatine have killed dozens of innocent victims.
The death penalty is reserved for California’s worst killers. Less than 2% of all murderers are sentenced to death. Those sentences are imposed by juries of citizens from our communities. Those sentences are affirmed by the trial judge who heard the evidence and by the California Supreme Court and Federal courts before being imposed. Proposition 34 will let all these murders off death row and will reduce public safety. That is why Proposition 34 is opposed by the majority of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in California.
A couple more points to share regarding Prop. 34.
Prop. 34 language mandates that
(f) Every person found guilty of murder and sentenced pursuant to this section shall be required to work within a high security prison as many hours of faithful labor in each day and every day during his or her term of imprisonment as shall be prescribed by the rules and regulations of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, pursuant to section 2700 of the Penal Code. In any case where the prisoner owes a restitution fine or restitution order, the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shall deduct money from the wages and trust account deposits of the prison and shall transfer those funds to the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board according to the rules and regulations of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, pursuant to sections 2085.5 and 2717.8 of the Penal Code.
Death row inmates, because of their security classification, are prohibited from working most “jobs” in CDCR. In addition, there aren’t enough jobs in CDCR for the inmates who want them. Being that jobs in prison are few and in high demand, they are saved for those inmates that will or have the opportunity to be released from prison. However, current CDCR practices allow inmates to sign up to work and receive good time/work time whether or not they actually ever work in prison. Under Prop. 34 the dangerous inmates who would have been on death row otherwise, would still be ineligible for many jobs – and therefore would sign up and quite possibly never actually be approved for a job. So, the claim that all these inmates will work and pay restitution is not valid.
Prop. 34 language states that
On January 1, 2013, $10,000,000 shall be transferred from the General Fund to the SAFE California Fund for the 2012-13 fiscal year and shall be continuously appropriated for the purposes of this Act. On July 1 of each fiscal years 2013-2014, 2014-2015, and 2015-2016, an additional sum of $30,000,000 shall be transferred from the General Fund to the SAFE California Fund and shall be continuously appropriated for the purposes of this Act. Fund transferred to the SAFE California Fund shall be used exclusively for the purposes of this Act and shall not be subject to appropriation or transfer by the Legislature for any other purpose. The funds in the SAFE California Fund may be used without regard to fiscal year.
The $100 million for law enforcement to use to solve cold cases and to help solve open rape and murder cases sounds good, but when you take the money and divide it by the number of law enforcement agencies in California, the average grant is so small it will not be of any real assistance to law enforcement. There are over 350 law enforcement agencies, including DA offices, in California. The average grant will be in the realm of $200K. That barely covers the cost for salary for one law enforcement officer – depending on the county.
Proposition 36 is a measure that would amend the Three Strikes Law causing the third strike to be a serious or violent offense. For years opponents of the Three Strikes Law have claimed that petty thieves are ending up in our prisons – well that simply is not the case. The Three Strikes Law works to keep career criminals off our streets, and it has worked! It is important to note that prosecutors and judges all have the discretion to use or not use the Three Strikes Law when deciding the best punishment for criminals. Prop 36 would take the discretion away from prosecutors and judges. CVAA opposes prop. 36.
This is a very dangerous initiative that would allow almost one-half of California’s 3 Strike prison inmates to be re-sentenced and released. 100% of these convicted criminals have 2 or more serious or violent prior felonies. By changing the third strike requirement to also be serious or violent it not only provides the opportunity for a repeat offender to impact yet more victims, it also stops far fewer serious and violent criminals far later in their career. In other words: Too little too late!
The citizens of California are already seeing firsthand the results of a small army of trigger happy parolees being released by the state prison system under AB109. These are said to be “low level” offenders. What this initiative is talking about releasing are the “bad boys” with 2 or more serious or violent prior convictions.
This reform initiative is simply a bad idea at the worst possible time. The 3 Strikes Reform Act is heavily funded by out of state money and they have every intention of using that money to try to fool the voters.
Shortly after 3 Strikes passed in 1994 California crime dropped in half. Half the crime also has meant half the criminals. In the 5 years prior to 3 Strikes California taxpayers funded and built 19 new prisons. During the last 18 years of 3 Strikes California taxpayers have only funded and built 1 new prison.
The projected savings of not locking up twice convicted serious and violent criminals, forgets to take into account the cost of crime these repeat offenders represent during the short amount of time they are on the streets between arrest and convictions.