For all of the problems with the national polls, for the second time in four years, the polls heavily whiffed on the issue of the death penalty. Despite polling that shows Californians increasingly opposing the death penalty, and polling that showed Prop. 62 neck and neck, while Prop. 66 was going down heavily – that’s not what happened on Tuesday night.
The latest results show that Prop. 62, which would have repealed the death penalty, going down to a wider-than-expected defeat by nearly 700,000 votes. In fact, it got a 46 percent vote share, which was lower than the 48 percent that Prop. 34, a similar bill, got in 2012.
Meanwhile, the bill to speed up time limits has been passed by about 150,000 votes.
What makes this all the more surprising is that the electorate is the same one that supported Hillary Clinton by 28 percentage points over Donald Trump.
One might be tempted to say that the voters might have been confused by the competing measures, but, if that were the case, you wouldn’t see the huge 800,000 divide between the yeses on Prop. 66 and Prop. 62.
Statement by Ana Zamora, Campaign Manager for No on Prop. 66:
“We would like nothing better than a criminal justice system that is responsive and fair. But California just made a mistake the size of Texas. We cannot say with any certainty that California will not execute an innocent person.
The proponents of Prop. 66 told voters that this measure would save them money, but that’s just not true. Worse yet, the initiative is so poorly written that it is legally and practically unworkable.
California voters can now expect more litigation, more delays, and more costs to taxpayers.
We’ll never know how many voters cast a ballot against their own views. This was one of the most chaotic and confusing elections on record. Voters were asked to weigh in on everything from condoms in adult films to marijuana to the death penalty. The ballot contained two death penalty initiatives with highly technical language that was even difficult for lawyers to understand.
In recent months, several polls have shown that given a clear choice, free of misleading promises and fear-based rhetoric, the majority of Californians prefer life in prison without the possibility of parole over the death penalty. We are certain that a great deal of confusion and frustration lowered support for Prop. 62 and drove the vote for Prop. 66 which squeaked by with approximately 51% of the vote. This percentage may drop even further as additional votes are counted.
From day one, the No on Prop. 66 campaign warned that the measure will also will trigger additional costs to taxpayers. Poorly written initiatives often end up mired in costly and protracted litigation in California.
We don’t yet know the full impact of this flawed measure in human, legal, or economic terms. But we can say for certain that nothing good will come from it.
Prop. 66 is a false promise, and California deserves better.”
The news was better on Prop. 57. It cruised to an easy victory, despite strong pushback from police and prosecutors.
There was a lot of concern that Prop. 57 was poorly crafted, to allow violent offenders (even those not classified as violent) to be released early. I always believed that was a red herring. We will have to trust the Board of Parole to continue to do their job. If anything, the Board has shown itself to be very “conservative,” erring heavily on the side of denying parole.
The Board of Parole conducted suitability hearings for 5300 inmates during the year 2015. Only 902, or 17 percent, were granted.
Parole boards are made up of law enforcement officials who determine whether the person is suitable for release. They are inherently conservative. So the idea that Prop. 57 is going to spawn the early release of dangerous criminals is fear mongering.
Prop. 57 may be slightly broad on definitions of violent criminals, but that doesn’t mean a parole board is going to let a dangerous rapist go free, who has not demonstrated clear rehabilitation and that they are not a danger to society.
So what does Prop. 57 do? For one thing, it will end a process called direct filing, where juveniles are automatically, under some circumstances, tried as adults. Right now, certain crimes keep young offenders from the juvenile justice system, forcing them into the more punitive system.
Now those decisions on how to try juveniles will be decided by a judge, not a prosecutor – and that is, in our view, a good thing.
Marijuana is now legal. The question is what exactly does that mean.
“Marijuana is now going to be a legal commodity like alcohol,” said Tamar Todd, legal director of Drug Policy Action, the advocacy and political arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, which backed Prop. 64. “By itself, marijuana itself is not considered contraband so the mere presence of somebody having it is not grounds to stop, search, frisk and detain somebody.”
One thing you can do is you can possess an ounce of pot and up to six plants in your home legally, assuming you are 21 years of age or older.
No longer can law enforcement use the smell of marijuana or the presence of paraphernalia as a basis for broad searches. That is a huge criminal justice issue.
Licensing and taxation will not begin for another year, not until January 2018. The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) estimated additional state and local tax revenues ranging from “the high hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion annually.” But again, that is down the line.
There was confusion on the Vanguard about this, but you cannot smoke marijuana in public and driving while impaired by marijuana is treated just like a DWI. Moreover, a recreational marijuana shop cannot be within 600 feet of daycare centers, schools and other youth centers. And businesses that sell alcohol or tobacco cannot sell pot.
Like medical marijuana, local governments can ban commercial marijuana transactions by ordinance and, if they decide to OK marijuana businesses, the local authorities can regulate them through zoning laws.
Although communities can nix cultivation, they are not able to ban the provision allowing up to six plants in a person’s home.
For those who have been convicted of marijuana possession in the past, you can petition the courts to revisit cases that the new law legalizes. That may be more limited than you think, but worth a shot.
However, getting the marijuana, unless you grow it at home, may not be easy. The LA Times writes, “Although the measure’s passage would immediately allow adults to possess and grow marijuana, there may not be places to legally purchase it for some time. The measure only allows non-medical marijuana to be sold by state licensed businesses, and it gives the state until Jan. 1, 2018, to begin issuing sales licenses for recreational retailers.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting