Pubdate: Sat, 01 Nov 2008
Source: Union, The (Grass Valley, CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Union
Authors: Cliff Newell, and Keith Royal
Note: Cliff Newell is Nevada County's district attorney and Keith 
Royal is the county sheriff.


We, as district attorney and sheriff for Nevada County and, as 
taxpayers, are deeply concerned about the pending ballot initiative 
Proposition 5.

Prop. 5, the Nonviolent Offenders Rehabilitation Act, is seriously 
flawed and should not become the law. It is offered up to the voters 
by the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group whose primary goal is 
to legalize drugs across the country. They were also the proponents 
of the previously enacted Prop. 36, which requires nonviolent drug 
offenders to be put on probation and a treatment program.

There has been much debate as to the effectiveness of Prop. 36 with 
low completion averages and high recidivism rates. Prop. 5 
exacerbates all that is wrong with Prop. 36 and costs millions of 
dollars to boot!

In this instance, the Drug Policy Alliance seeks to build upon their 
success in getting Prop. 36 past California voters in 2000 and to 
expand its mandatory drug treatment diversion programs to criminals 
who commit burglary, auto theft, domestic violence, child abuse, 
fraud and theft of all kinds.

Unlike Prop. 36, Prop. 5 is not limited to simple drug possession 
offenses. Virtually any criminal who claims to have a drug problem 
would be permitted a "get-out-of-jail-free" card. For those who do 
finally end up in prison, Prop. 5 shortens parole from three years to 
only six months.

Additionally, while on parole these convicted criminals can test 
positive for drugs, commit new misdemeanor offenses, and abscond from 
supervision without fear of being returned to prison.

The stated intentions of Prop. 5 are to relieve prison overcrowding 
and to provide drug treatment and rehabilitation to youth and 
nonviolent offenders. Both laudable goals but, Prop. 5 will not only 
fail to produce the desired results, it will cost taxpayers billions 
of dollars and divert scarce resources from those that really want 
sobriety to those who simply want that "get out of jail free" card.

Prop. 5 mandates that $610 million in "start-up" costs be transferred 
from the general fund to the program in the first six months. Where 
does this money come from in the midst of the current fiscal crisis? 
Prop. 5 becomes another mandated program exempt from budget control 
by the Legislature or the governor.

Prop. 5 does not create any new funding - it just redirects it away 
from other programs. And, Prop. 5 is exempt from the annual state 
budget review process. The $1 billion proposition is estimated to 
cost annually comes right off the top - before education, public 
safety, roads and infrastructure, senior services, and everything 
else paid for by the state. The only way the funding can be reduced 
or eliminated is through another voter-approved initiative or a 
four-fifths vote of the Legislature.

This proposition is so dangerous that numerous prominent individuals 
and organizations have joined together against it. All 58 elected 
district attorneys in the state vehemently oppose Prop. 5. Sen. 
Dianne Feinstein and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi are vocal opponents. So 
are Attorney General Jerry Brown and every former California attorney 
general, the California State Sheriffs' Association, the Police 
Chiefs of California, MADD, former Govs. Pete Wilson, Gray Davis, 
George Deukmejian, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) 
and virtually every major newspaper across the state. Even the 
California Judges Association, which rarely takes a position on state 
initiatives, has issued a blistering denunciation of its provisions.

As the chief law enforcement officers of this county, we would ask 
you to take the time to educate yourselves about this dangerous 
threat to public safety by reviewing the www.NoOnProposition5 Web 
site. For the protection of our communities, please vote "no" on 
Prop. 5 and tell all your friends and family to vote "no."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom