6 11 2012
2012 Election: Prop 34, 35, 36. (Pros, Cons, Recommendations)
Though your vote in the Presidential race is absolutely meaningless, there are many important propositions on tomorrow’s ballot. I’m going to be doing a bit of a cram session on most of them tonight, but when it comes to 34, 35, and 36, you have the chance to impact the state’s law on the Death Penalty, Three Strikes, and increased penalties for human trafficking, especially in regards to child sex workers.
Out of all of the measures on tomorrow’s ballot, those are the three I am most familiar with because my job as a law blogger means I’ve had the opportunity to study them in depth. Here is the short version:
34: Formally ends the Death Penalty, saving the state an estimated $100 million per year. You might be a soulless bastard, much like me. You might think that capital punishment is sometimes called for, like for mass murderers and child rapists. Did you know that our state is so bad at legally killing people that we’ve only executed 14 people out of 900 sentenced to death since 1978? We’re awful at killing killers efficiently and it costs us hundreds of millions of dollars per year that could otherwise go towards children or paying down our budget deficit (or hiring more prosecutors … hmmm?) The only downside of eliminating the death penalty is that prosecutors have less leverage to force plea bargains on defendants. That’s a mixed bag there, as they’re going to prison either way if they are guilty. We might just be freeing an innocent person or two.
If you have no soul, think of the cost savings. If you have a soul, it should be a no brainer. VOTE YES ON 34.
35: Increases penalties for human traffickers. These are the classy folk that either force illegal immigrants to work for free using the threat of deportation (labor trafficking) or use their ever-so-strong pimp hand to force women into prostitution. Mostly, our existing laws already cover what 35 proposes. What it does change, however, is that it will increase penalties for those two types of gentlemen (and gentlewomen) and for sex traffickers that deal in the child sex trade. Those who force minors into prostitution can face a *life sentence*, which is pretty damn appropriate. While it will cost some additional money for the longer sentences, we really only prosecute a few hundred or so of these twerps per year anyway. The cost is insignificant in comparison to the benefit. YES ON 35 as well.
36: Reforms Three Strikes. California’s 3 Strikes law was one of the first of it’s kind. As is, if someone commits a third felony, they can be sentenced to life. It sounds great, except that there are all sorts of crimes that shouldn’t get a life sentence, such as a famous CA case where a guy stole a pizza and somehow it was charged as a felony.
What the new version of the law will do is simply require that the third strike be a serious or violent felony, such as rape, murder, and aggravated assault. Good times. Plus, if the third felony doesn’t qualify as a third strike, it will still have a double penalty for the repeat offender. Doubly good times. The proposition will also allow those who are on life sentences under a third strike to petition for release if it was a nonviolent offense. After a short increase in court activity, this is expected to save a ton for our state’s prison system (and overall budget). YES ON 36 as well!