From Sacramento Bee: Gov. Jerry Brown’s criminal justice initiative may be heading for the fall ballot after proponents on Friday began submitting hundreds of thousands of signatures.
Dana Williamson, a former Brown confidant who is spearheading the campaign, posted a photo online of several cardboard boxes filled with signed petitions. “Heading to counties with nearly a million (signatures) for @JerryBrownGov criminal justice measure,” Williamson wrote on the social media service Twitter. Brown must have about 585,500 valid signatures to qualify for the November 8 ballot.
His measure would override a tough sentencing law he signed during his first stint as governor, in 1976. It would allow certain non-violent felons to seek early parole, give juvenile court judges the power to try a juvenile as an adult after a hearing and permit the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to allot credits to prisoners for good behavior.
A court challenge to keep it off the ballot is pending before the California Supreme Court.
Touting his proposal earlier this year, Brown said there was no incentive now for people in prison to rehabilitate their lives. “You get out at a certain day. Not earlier, not later,” he said of the system. “But if you can get parole, or you can earn credits … for going home earlier, then you have a power over your life. You can take charge. And learning how to take control of your life is exactly what we need people to do.”
In addition to opposing the policy, the state prosecutor’s group challenged the mechanics of the initiative. The California District Attorneys Association contends that Brown and his allies short-circuited the process by combining their plan with a different juvenile justice proposal that had been submitted earlier. The case is pending at the state Supreme Court.
Mark Zahner, chief executive for the district attorneys, promised a vigorous opposition campaign beginning next week.
Zahner said in a statement: “With crime rates rising dramatically across the state of California for the first time in decades we believe the voters will be extremely reluctant to pass a measure that allows violent felons who have committed crimes along the likes of domestic violence, human trafficking, rape of an unconscious person and assault with a deadly weapon to be let back out on the streets before serving the time sentenced by a judge.”
Friday is the deadline for initiative proponents to submit their signatures under a bill recently signed by Brown. Supporters of another initiative to direct funding from reusable bag sales to an environmental fund said Thursday that they planned to turn in about 600,000 signatures.