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November 3, 2004

One last race to follow and early election thoughts

With the presidential race now being called by some news outlets, my focus is on the tight vote over Proposition 66. Just after 2am eastern, CNN is reporting that the ballot initiative to amend California's tough Three Strikes law is leading 52% to 48% with 40 percent of all precincts reporting. At least in the world of sentencing law and policy, the passage (or defeat) of Proposition 66 will be important news for California's criminal justice system.

More generally, I cannot help but start to speculate about what an apparently strong election night for the Republicans might mean for criminal justice policy. As noted previously here, many states in recent years have taken steps to cut back on harsh mandatory sentences and to expand treatment-centered alternatives to incarceration. And Republicans Governors, from Alabama to Maryland to Michigan to Texas, have been among the leading proponents of this notable modern shift from penal retribution toward rehabilitation.

Of course, at the federal level, there is no serious indication of an interest to shift away from the tough-on-crime policies of the last two decades, and none of the election returns are likely to alleviate concerns that Congress will respond to the expected outcome in Booker and Fanfan with new harsh sentencing legislation. But, like the networks tonight, I continue to be reserved in all my predictions. After all, President Bush has said he wants to appoint more justices like (Blakely author) Justice Scalia; that might at least mean that defendants have extremely broad Sixth Amendment rights.

November 3, 2004 at 02:18 AM | Permalink

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