CAPITAL PUNISHMENT UPHELD BY A NARROW MARGIN OF STATE VOTERS
Voters have approved major changes to the Three Strikes Law, but rejected attempts to abolish capital punishment in California.
With most of the Nov. 6 votes tallied, the Three Strikes Law, Proposition 36, won 69.1 percent to 30.9 percent. The vote total was 7,943,034 yes to 3,556,723 no. The death penalty initiative, Proposition 34, lost 47.8 percent to 52.2 percent, which was 5,517,414 yes and 6,034,428 no.
The death penalty initiative would have abolished capital punishment, and retroactively substituted life without the possibility of parole for the more than 700 men and women on Death Row.
Proposition 34 also would have directed $100 million to law enforcement agencies for investigations of homicide and rape cases. The state voter guide estimated it would have saved about $130 million annually within a few years. It also would have represented costs of $100 million for local law enforcement grants. Three Strikes changes permit an estimated 3,000 prison inmates to petition courts for sentence reductions.
The official voter summary says Proposition 36: “Revises law to impose a life sentence only when new felony conviction is serious or violent. May authorize re-sentencing if third strike conviction was not serious or violent.”
The summary estimates ongoing state correctional savings of around $70 million annually, with even greater savings (up to $90 million annually) over the next couple of decades.
Proposition 36 supporters said the initiative “restores the original intent of the Three Strikes Law by focusing on violent criminals…Nonviolent offenders get twice the ordinary prison sentence.”
The legislative analyst says of Proposition 36: “The measure limits eligibility for resentencing to third strikers whose current offense is nonserious, non-violent and who have not committed specific current and prior offenses, such as certain drug-, sex-, and gun-related felonies.”
The analyst adds, “The court would be required to re-sentence eligible offenders unless it determines that re-sentencing the offenders would pose an unreasonable risk to public safety. In determining whether an offender poses such a risk, the court could consider any evidence it determines is relevant, such as the offender’s criminal history, behavior in prison, and participation in rehabilitation program.”