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Note: The Background, Proposal, and Fiscal Effect sections are taken from the LWVCEF In Depth publication, based in part on the Legislative Analyst’s Office analysis included in the Secretary of State’s official Voter Information Guide.
(Note: This measure is sometimes known as the “Runner Initiative” for one of its proponents, State Senator George Runner.)
Criminal Justice Programs and Funds. State and local governments share responsibility for operating and funding various parts of California’s criminal justice system. Generally, the state funds and operates prisons, parole and the courts, while local governments are responsible for community law enforcement, such as police, sheriffs and criminal prosecutions.
The state supports some criminal justice activities that have traditionally been a local responsibility. In 2007-08, the state allocated hundreds of millions of dollars for local criminal justice programs: This includes $439 million for three such programs: the Citizens’ Option for Public Safety, the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act and Juvenile Probation and Camps Funding.
The state also administers the State Penalty Fund that collects revenues from fees assessed to some criminal offenders. These funds are disbursed for various purposes, including restitution to crime victims and peace officer training. A portion is also transferred to the state General Fund.
Criminal Sentencing Laws. State laws define three kinds of crimes: felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. A felony is the most serious type of crime. State laws specify the penalty options available for each crime, such as the maximum sentence of imprisonment in county jail or state prison. About 18 percent of persons convicted of a felony are sent to state prison. Other felons are supervised on probation in the community, sentenced to county jail, pay a fine, or have some combination of these punishments.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation operates 33 state prisons and other facilities with a combined adult inmate population of about 171,000 as of May 2008. Estimated operating costs in 2008-09 are approximately $10 billion. The average annual cost of incarcerating an inmate is approximately $46,000. The state prison system is currently experiencing overcrowding because there are not enough permanent beds available for all inmates. As a result, gymnasiums and other rooms in state prisons have been converted to house some inmates.
Supervision of Parolees and Sex Offenders. Convicted felons who have served their time in state prison are supervised on parole by the state after their release. State policies determine the number of parole agents and other staff necessary to supervise these parolees.
Proposition 83 (known as “Jessica’s Law”), approved by the voters in November 2006, requires that certain persons convicted of felony sex offenses be monitored by a Global Positioning System (GPS) device while on parole and for the rest of their lives. That proposition did not specify whether state or local governments would be responsible for paying for the GPS supervision costs after these offenders are discharged from state parole supervision.
Proposition 6 makes a number of changes to current laws relating to the state criminal justice system, the most significant of which are the following:
Spending Levels for Certain New and Existing Criminal Justice Programs. The proposal creates new state-funded criminal justice programs and requires that funding for certain existing programs be continued at their 2007-08 levels. The measure requires state spending of at least $965 million beginning in 2009-10 and reflects an increase in funding of $365 million compared to the current budget. Figure 1 summarizes the increase in state spending required by this measure, generally beginning in 2009-10.
The measure requires new state spending for such purposes as:
The measure prohibits state or local governments from using the new funding to replace funds now used for the same purposes. Future funding for most of these new and existing programs will adjusted annually for inflation.
The State Penalty Fund will be redistributed to increase training support for peace officers, corrections staff, prosecutors, and public defenders, as well as various crime victims’ services programs. It would eliminate the existing transfer of the money to the state General Fund. That transfer was approximately $14 million in 2007-08. Youthful Offender Block Grant funds for housing, supervising, and providing treatment services to juveniles must be distributed to county probation offices. It would eliminate existing provisions that permit these block grant funds to be provided directly to drug treatment, mental health or other county departments.
A new state office would be created to distribute public service announcements about crime rates and criminal justice statutes such as the “Three Strikes” law. A new commission would evaluate publicly funded early intervention and rehabilitation programs designed to reduce crime.
Increased Penalties for Certain Crimes. The proposal would increase criminal penalties for crimes related to gang participation and recruitment, intimidation of individuals involved in court proceedings, possession and sale of methamphetamines, vehicle theft, removing or disabling a GPS device, and firearms possession. These and other proposed increases in penalties would likely result in more offenders being sentenced to state prison or jail for a longer period of time.
Changes to State Parole Policies. The proposal would reduce the average number of parolees supervised by each parole agent from 70 to 50. The proposal would also require the state to pay the cost of GPS monitoring of sex offenders after their discharge from parole supervision.
Other Criminal Justice Changes. Other significant changes that the measure will make to state law include:
The measure contains a severability clause that provides that if any part of the measure is found to be invalid or unconstitutional, the rest of the measure would remain in effect.
Proposition 6 will go into effect with the start of the 2009-10 fiscal year.
The proposition would have significant fiscal effects on both the state and local governments. These fiscal estimates could change due to pending federal court litigation or budget actions.
Required Spending Levels for Certain New and Existing Criminal Justice Programs. The measure requires state spending for various state and local criminal justice programs totaling about $965 million beginning in 2009-10, an increase of $365 million compared to 2007-08. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that this amount will increase by about $100 million in about five years, due to the proposal’s provisions that require that state funding for certain programs be adjusted each year for inflation. In addition, the redistribution of the State Penalty Fund could result in about a $14 million loss in state General Fund revenues compared to the 2007-08 funds.
Increased Penalties for Certain Crimes; Parole Policy Changes. Some provisions of this measure would result in additional state costs to operate the prison and parole system. These costs are likely to grow to at least $200 million annually after a number of years. These increased costs are mainly due to provisions that increase penalties for gang, methamphetamine, vehicle theft, and other crimes, as well as provisions that decrease parole agent caseloads and require the state to pay for the cost of GPS monitoring for sex offenders discharged from parole supervision.
State Capital Outlay Costs. The provisions increasing criminal penalties for certain crimes could also result in additional one-time capital outlay costs related to prison construction and renovation. The magnitude of these one-time costs is unknown, but potentially could exceed $500 million.
State Trial Courts, County Jails, and Other Criminal Justice Agencies. This measure could have significant fiscal effects on state trial courts, county jails, and other criminal justice agencies, potentially resulting in both new costs and savings. The net fiscal effect of its various provisions is unknown, because it is impossible to gauge the fiscal impact of more offenders being arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated in local jails or state prisons, more undocumented offenders being held longer for violent or gang-related crimes, and the use of temporary jail and treatment facilities utilized by counties.
The proposal provides some additional funding for prevention and intervention programs designed to reduce the likelihood that individuals will commit new crimes. To the degree that these programs are successful, they could result in fewer offenders being arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated in local jails or state prisons than would otherwise occur. Additionally, provisions increasing criminal penalties for specified crimes could reduce costs related to courts and other criminal justice agencies by deterring some offenders from committing new crimes.
Other social and economic impacts on state and local governments are unknown.
The League’s opposition to Proposition 6 is based upon the State and Local Finances and Juvenile Justice aspects of the measure.
The LWVC State and Local Finances position supports measures to ensure revenues both sufficient and flexible enough to meet changing needs for state and local government services.
The LWVC Juvenile Justice/Dependency position supports a juvenile justice/dependency system that rehabilitates juvenile offenders by . . . helping to prepare them for productive participation in society. The League believes that efforts to deal with dependency issues and provide juvenile justice should emphasize prevention and early intervention; be integrated; and be adequately and flexibly funded at the appropriate governmental level, to allow for . . . provision of effective services for as long as needed.
Proposition 6 will spend $1 billion in one year on programs and expanded jail and prison facilities. Proposition 6 provides no new source of funds. That is $1 billion not available for education, health care, fire protection or proven public safety efforts in our already over-extended budget. In subsequent years the measure will cost at least $500 million annually and will increase after that with cost of living increases to some programs.
Proposition 6 eliminates drug treatment, mental health, and other county departments from receiving State Youthful Offender Block Grant funds, provided by the state to house, supervise, and provide various types of treatment services to juveniles. The measure instead gives all these funds to county probation departments. In addition, the measure eliminatesthe requirementthat representatives of nonprofit community-based organizations providing services to minors, a representative of a community-based drug and alcohol treatment program, and an at-large community representative be included as members of each county’s Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council. Yet virtually every criminal justice study of gang problems and high-crime communities calls for a coordinated balanced approach that includes community service workers and mental health and drug and alcohol services along with tough enforcement of the law. Proposition 6 ignores these facts, and instead focuses on the symptoms, not on the causes.
Proposition 6 threatens young people and the poor. More youth will end up in prison as a result of the age limit for trial in adult court being lowered to 14 years and more gang-related activities being made
The rebuttal to the supporters’ argument was signed by Roy Ulrich, Board Chair, California Tax Reform Association, and Daniel Macallair, Executive Director, Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice.
The rebuttal to the opponents’ argument was signed by Rod Pacheco, District Attorney, Riverside County; Laurie Smith, Sheriff, Santa Clara County; and Ron Cottingham, President, Peace Officers Research Association of California.
Others opposing Proposition 6 include the LWVC; California Federation of Teachers; American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California; California Democratic Party; California Teachers Association; California State Chapter of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Dolores Huerta, Co-Founder of the United Farm Workers; Friends Committee on Legislation; Children’s Defense Fund California; League of Young Voters; and Asian/Pacific Islander Youth Promoting Advocacy and Leadership (AYPAL).
Linda Craig, LWVC Advocacy Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Trudy Schafer, LWVC Senior Director for Program
Pat Kuhi, LWVC Juvenile Justice/Dependency Program Director
www.VoteNoProp6.com, Coalition to Defeat Propositions 6 and 9
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