Make no mistake about it: Proposition 57 is a dangerous, dangerous ballot initiative that poses a great threat to the people of California.
The ballot title and summary called the “Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016” could not be more misleading or further from the truth as to what it does or, worse yet, for what it would do.
Crime is already on the rise throughout California for the first time in decades. FBI statistics show violent crime up more than 10 percent in just the past year alone. This measure would allow some of the most violent criminals in our state prisons to be released early, putting the victims of their crimes and potential new victims in grave danger.
The proponents would have you believe that these are “nonviolent” criminals. Here are just a few of the crimes that fall on that list: rape by intoxication or of an unconscious person; human trafficking involving a sex act with minors; assault with a deadly weapon; domestic violence involving trauma; a drive-by shooting; hostage-taking; attempting to explode a bomb at a hospital or school; supplying a firearm to a gang member; a hate crime causing physical injury; arson; discharging a firearm on school grounds; lewd acts against a child 14 or 15.
I challenge you to call one of these crimes “nonviolent.”
I have spent the years since the tragic kidnapping and death of my daughter Polly in 1993 trying to ensure justice for crime victims and to promote laws that protect children and all citizens from future crimes.
In California, voters have passed important, meaningful ballot initiatives intended to protect victims of crimes and give them more rights than the criminals.
This single ballot measure would wipe out what Californians deemed important to protect crime victims. If Proposition 57 passes, it would virtually eliminate: the California Victim’s Bill of Rights, Marsy’s Law, the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act, and the Gang Violence and Crime Prevention Act.
We cannot go back to a time when victims of domestic violence, hate crimes or gang violence live in fear of testifying because their predator could be out within a few years instead of the sentence promised to them.
I work on behalf of crime victims every day, and just one single victim is one too many. Look at the list above one more time and ask yourself which of these crimes if committed against your mother, sister, daughter or neighbor would be considered nonviolent. Now ask yourself again if it would be acceptable if those criminals were let out on early release after not being held responsible for the crimes they had committed.
Proposition 57 is dangerous. It is misleading. And it would lead to more victims of crime in California.
Marc Klaas is founder of the Klaas Kids Foundation and wrote this viewpoint on behalf of the No on Proposition 57 campaign. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.