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October 3, 2008

Californians to vote on major drug sentencing reform on election day

As detailed in this Los Angeles Times article, headlined "Prop. 5 would overhaul sentencing of drug offenders," voters in California next month will have a chance to vote on a proposition that would alter the state's drug sentencing laws.  Here are the basics:

In a state that has consistently boosted penalties for criminals, packing California's prisons to bursting, sponsors of the far-reaching Proposition 5 are asking voters in November to go in the opposite direction.  The Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act, funded in part by billionaire George Soros, would be "the most ambitious sentencing and prison reform in U.S. history," according to the Drug Policy Alliance Network, a primary sponsor.

By 2010, the measure would commit the state to spending at least $460 million a year, mostly to increase treatment -- and eliminate incarceration -- for those who commit nonviolent crimes involving drugs or fueled by them. Even when drugs aren't involved, the state no longer could seek to return many ex-convicts to prison for low-level parole violations, as occurred nearly 18,000 times last year, or revoke parole for actions that would qualify as misdemeanor crimes.  Parole terms for some offenders would decrease from three years to six months. A new prison bureaucracy devoted to rehabilitation would be created.  And possession an ounce or less of marijuana would be an infraction, instead of a misdemeanor.

October 3, 2008 at 09:38 AM | Permalink


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Durg treatment is the only way to properly serve the people of California. Jailing users makes zero sense, especially since they can get drugs in the prisons. Treating dealers harshly is one thing, but users need compassion and treatment, not 10 years confined to a cell where drugs are still available.

Posted by: JT | Oct 3, 2008 10:37:14 AM

Martin Sheen, who knows something about the difficulty of keeping an addict in treatment, had the following op-ed in the Sacramento Bee:


Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Oct 3, 2008 12:55:23 PM

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