Capitol Alert

Signatures submitted for Jerry Brown’s criminal justice initiative

Jerry Brown: ‘Problems I create, I can clean up’

Voters in November 2016 approved Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal for changing the “determinate” sentencing law, which he signed in his first term in 1976. Saying prisoners have too few incentives to turn their lives around, he proposed to make it eas
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Voters in November 2016 approved Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal for changing the “determinate” sentencing law, which he signed in his first term in 1976. Saying prisoners have too few incentives to turn their lives around, he proposed to make it eas

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 and tweeted that the campaign had turned in “nearly a million” signatures. Brown needs about 585,500 valid signatures to qualify for the Nov. 8 ballot, though a court challenge to keep it off the ballot is pending before the California Supreme Court.

Friday was 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 have said that they planned to turn in about 600,000 signatures. Voters could face as many as 17 initiatives in November.

Brown’s measure would override a tough sentencing law he signed during his first stint as governor, in 1976. It would allow certain nonviolent 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.

We believe the voters will be extremely reluctant to pass a measure that allows violent felons ... to be let back out on the streets before serving the time sentenced by a judge.

Mark Zahner, chief executive for the California District Attorneys Association

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.”

Seven measures have already qualified and are likely to be on the Nov. 8 ballot:

▪ Locks in Medi-Cal funding.

▪ Imposes price controls on state drug purchases.

▪ $9 billion bond initiative for K-12 schools and community colleges.

▪ Requires a public vote on revenue bonds, such as those envisioned for water tunnels proposed by Brown.

▪ Referendum on California law phasing out single-use plastic shopping bags.

▪ Requires adult film actors to wear condoms.

▪ Repeals requirement that all children be taught English.

Ten others, including Brown’s criminal justice measure and the plastic bag initiative, are awaiting signature verification and could be on the ballot.

▪ Imposes new gun-control rules.

▪ Ends the death penalty.

▪ Extends a version of temporary tax increases approved by voters in 2012.

▪ Speeds up death penalty process.

▪ Legalizes recreational marijuana use.

▪ Caps hospital executives’ compensation at $450,000.

▪ Requires bills to be in print three days before votes and video recording of legislative proceedings.

▪ Redirects revenue from a state law banning single-use carryout bags.

▪ Changes parole and sentencing standards.

▪ Imposes a $2-a-pack tax on cigarettes.

Click here to go to The Money Trail.

Crime victim advocate Marc Klaas ripped California Gov. Jerry Brown's prison and parole initiative at a press conference with district attorneys and victims' rights groups on Wednesday, March 2, 2016. They promoted their opposition to Brown’s ball

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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