Patterico's Pontifications


No on 36: Soros-Funded Proposition Will Fill the Streets with Criminals

Filed under: General,No on 36 — Patterico @ 12:01 am

Proposition 36 is a measure designed to weaken the Three Strikes law. As I write this, it seems destined to pass: polling consistently shows support over 60% and opposition under 30%. George Soros has spent a million dollars to support it. With Soros’s help, supporters are outspending opponents by more than 20 to 1.

What is all this money buying? The freedom of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of criminals with multiple serious and/or violent felonies on their record.

I plan several posts in coming days about how dangerous this proposition would be. The L.A. Times and others have tried to sell you a bill of goods. They claim that Proposition 36 might free only a few hundred (supposedly) aging prisoners who will (supposedly) be Certified Nonviolent by a judge, as opposed to the status quo where prisoners are (supposedly) “automatically” sentenced to 25 to life, and the prisons are (supposedly) being crammed to the hilt with thousands of nonviolent offenders. And don’t worry! Anyone with “homicide offenses” on their record will (supposedly) stay in for life.

That’s what you’re being told. But most of what you’re being told is wrong.

Even today, nobody is “automatically” sentenced to 25 to life, despite the L.A. Times‘s false claims to the contrary. Potential third-strikers already receive individualized hearings before sentencing, in which judges take into account the circumstances of their upbringing, the remoteness and violent (or nonviolent) nature of their previous strikes, and their future prospects.

Only about 10% of third-strike prisoners are over 60. When the L.A. Times pretends the third-strike population is a bunch of nonviolent old codgers, they are playing games with the facts.

A judge will not have to certify that they are not violent. You heard me right. As I will fully explain in future posts, once this horrible proposition is passed, judges all over the state will be holding hearings where people with two violent convictions on their record are seeking their freedom. And judges will be telling prosecutors that these violent convictions are almost irrelevant to whether the defendants pose an “unreasonable” risk of harm to society as required by the law. “What more do you have to show he is violent, other than just his convictions for manslaughter and armed robbery?” will be a typical question heard in such hearings. The best evidence of the risk these people pose will be brushed aside — because the law assumes that people with multiple strikes will be freed. I’ll have much more on this in coming days.

The prisons are not crammed full of third strikers, because District Attorneys across the state are already exercising discretion under the law. In December 2003, we had 7,335 third strikers. In December 2011, there were 8,848, out of a total prison population of 184,807. That’s an increase of 1,513 in eight years, which is fewer than 200 per year. So third strikers are fewer than 5% of the prison population, and every year we give life sentences to another 200 people — a tiny number which represents only one tenth of one percent of the 2011 prison population.

You’re being told that “homicide offenses” will keep people from being released . . . but what you’re not being told is that voluntary manslaughter and certain forms of vehicular manslaughter are not among this collection of “homicide offenses.”

The bottom line is as simple as it is frightening: people with multiple convictions for manslaughter, armed robbery, residential burglary, and other horrible offenses will be walking the streets once this thing passes.

And ignoring or weakening the Three Strikes law has consequences. People like Lily Burk are dead because people like Charles Samuel walked the streets when the law could have put them away. And I promise you: the L.A. Times editors know this, which makes their editorializing in favor of Prop. 36 particularly distressing.

I can’t put everything in one post. Since I am addressing this important issue late in the game, I plan to blanket the blog with anti-36 posts between now and election day.

I probably won’t change the outcome. But I will have tried. And I promise you: when these people hit the streets and start hurting and killing people — and they will — I’ll be right here to tell you that I told you so.

UPDATE: Added the words “certain forms of” to the post. Some vehicular manslaughter priors will deprive third strikers of the chance to petition for freedom, but not all. Thanks to JRM.

32 Responses to “No on 36: Soros-Funded Proposition Will Fill the Streets with Criminals”

  1. racist

    mg (31009b)

  2. Another uptick in gun sales.

    mg (31009b)

  3. I believe that incapacitation is the only proven theory of imprisonment. Deterrence and rehabilitation is empty hippie talk.

    But why can’t “over 60” be a factor in foregoing “life” for the ten percent of the non-homicidal, non-sex-offender lifers?

    nk (875f57)

  4. When it happens it will be Romney’s fault for not bailing out California.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  5. But, frankly, unless we get our fiscal house in order, it won’t much matter what happens here. We need to pass Prop 32 and break the stranglehold of public employee unions. That one still has a chance.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  6. California, synonym for “beautiful and fruitful”, is bankrupt. Sigh.

    nk (875f57)

  7. As an interim step California could just follow Mike Dukakis with weekend furloughs or even a little longer for violent offenders. Ease overcrowding on the margin that way.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  8. Ask California’s rich and famous to do just a little more, out of fairness, adopt a violent felon today.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  9. daleyrocks,

    Prisons for profit are coming home to roost. They (the they) built prisons, for profit. But they needed prisoners. For a long time. So they could amortize their cost and collect on their investment. Therefore, they (the they) lobbied for long sentences and got them. But now, the rent-payers, who voted prisons for money, cannot afford the rent. Got place?

    nk (875f57)

  10. time to buy more ammo.

    nucking fidiots.

    redc1c4 (403dff)

  11. I hop that you include the case of Lawrence Singleton in you series of articles. He is notorious for kidnapping, raping mutilating, and attempting to murder a teenage girl, Mary Vincent. How she survived having both forearms cutoff by a hatchet then being thrown off of a 30-foot cliff is a mystery to me, and a tribute to her spirit.

    I suspect that the fact that all of these offenses occurred as part of a single sequence of events would disqualify it from serving as the basis for a 3-strikes sentence, but in Florida he was then convicted of two petty thefts before committing the murder that finally put him on death row.

    Note by the way, that he was 51 years old when he committed the acts of mayhem against Mary Vinceny, 62 and 63 years old when he committed the petty thefts, and 69 when he murdered Roxanne Hayes.

    Gary Coleman (384bf5)

  12. I thought Steve Cooley(R)* helped write the bill and it seems that for his part; intentions were good.
    My understanding was that DA Cooley encourages discretion in choosing how to charge very petty thefts, very minor drug possession etc in such ways as not to trigger an additional “strike’.
    So the arguments go that a kid commits two felonies like robbery in two weeks as an 18 yr old, gets out, is caught holding a small amount of weed and is in for life…. which is presented as a a 70 year waste of resources.
    Then it is presented as the old codger who has two hard strikes who steals a trial size tube of toothpaste… who promptly needs heart surgery upon his arrival at High Desert.
    Of course people are going to vote for the proposition as framed.

    You should list all the major stuff that is NOT a strike in this proposition.

    I have a friend who was charged with felony child abuse in a set up by his soon to be ex wife in the midst of a bitter custody fight (she’s an addict, but with family money to buy the dirtiest help out there) So I do understand good intentions on restricting what is and what should not be a strike… but this 36 goes way way too far.


    steveg (831214)

  13. This is going to sound morbid and cynical, but assuming Prop 36 passes, will we be able to track how many Prop 36 releasees went on to commit new crimes, and later use that as a basis for getting this proposition overturned? It would mean going back to the voters with a tough-on-crime proposition in 6 or 10 years.

    Daryl Herbert (7300a2)

  14. Speaking to my trust in prosecutorial discretion, two local catholic high school administrators were charged and convicted of failing to report sexual assault.
    Seems clear cut. The administrators did not immediately report the assault(s) as required by law.
    The two girl victims involved and their parents approached the administrators with the allegations. The families asked for time for their daughters to process what had happened and how to navigate the high school social crucible afterwards… evidently the boy involved was popular.
    One girl wanted to finish the semester and graduate, while the other wanted to finish out and transfer. Then they’d come forward.
    So the administrators held to the wishes of the victims and their families.
    Sentencing for the administrators is next month.
    I don’t think the charges amounted to a “strike”, but the rights of the victims and their parents were trampled by the declared rights of the State

    steveg (831214)

  15. The notion that “over 60” = “incapable of violence” … I (and a whole bunch of my classmates) will take as an insult.

    Over 90 years of age, maybe they should interview some of the staff of an assisted living community. Dementia + 90 can equal extreme violence from both men and women, targeted at anyone, spouse to stranger.

    What planet are these people living on?

    htom (412a17)

  16. _____________________________________________

    George Soros has spent a million dollars to support it.

    And the most galling thing about such people is they actually believe they’re very humane, caring, compassionate, generous human beings. Nothing else annoys me as much about such folks than that.

    They can have blood on their hands and they’ll shrug it off by proclaiming: “But our hearts were in the right place! You can’t fault us for that, and nothing else matters.”

    Mark (66bba6)

  17. ___________________________________________________

    California’s new motto: “If it’s good enough for Greece (or Argentina/France/Mexico), it’s good enough for us.”

    Mark (66bba6)

  18. I can only imagine how frustrating this is for law enforcement in California. Work so hard to put burglars and thugs away, and then they get automatically released and hurt more people.

    When it happens it will be Romney’s fault for not bailing out California.

    Comment by Kevin M — 10/29/2012

    Heh. it’s true that California needs more prisons and can’t afford them. Ultimately, I think California needs a cultural shift if it’s going to really solve its problems.

    Dustin (73fead)

  19. The “vehicular manslaughter” phrasing is inelegant in this post – some vehicular manslaughters are disqualifying.

    The proposed legislation keeps eligible for 3K/life sentence people whose prior convictions include:

    1. Murder
    2. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
    3. Simple vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated

    Not eligible for a life sentence are people previously convicted of:

    1. Voluntary manslaughter
    2. Involuntary manslaughter
    3. Gross vehicular manslaughter without intoxication.

    This is decidedly odd. Simple vehicular manslaughter is theoretically an 1170(h) (local prison) eligible, although most such crimes will be ineligible for local prison because they will be committed as strikes. Voluntary manslaughter carries a much higher triad, and for all the work I’ve done on vehicular manslaughters, there’s a good reason for that.

    As with the realignment (aka “Prison Isn’t Working; Let’s Try Freedom”), some of the decision-making here seems misguided.

    Finally, in my jurisdiction, the vast majority of people who would no longer qualify for 3K treatment already don’t get it. The ones who do need it. More later, maybe.

    JRM (cd0a37)

  20. “Prisons for profit are coming home to roost.”

    nk – Private sector prisons have been in business for decades. Don’t know if any exist in California. If private sector can run a government function more efficiently I have no objection.

    On top of California Supreme Court decision to reduce prison populations, this proposition is nuts.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  21. And that would differ from now, exactly how?

    No space in the jails, no space in the prisons. Let the non-violent go, keep the bad boys.

    Or maybe start sending them to Guatemala…

    Space Cockroach (8096f2)

  22. •-•• •• •••- • •– •• – •••• — ••- – – •••• • •-•• •• -• •
    California’s new motto: “If it’s good enough for Greece (or Argentina/France/Mexico), it’s good enough for us.”
    Comment by Mark — 10/29/2012 @ 7:16 am

    — Hey California, if Greece jumped off a financial cliff would you do it too? Oh wait . . .

    Icy (f531b9)

  23. Ultimately, I think California needs a cultural shift if it’s going to really solve its problems.

    Conservative control of the LA Times would be a good start. Breaking the stranglehold of the public employee unions by stopping their functional bribes to politicians every election would also be a good start.

    Patterico is right on Prop 36, but he’s playing whack-a-mole. Win or lose, the basic problem remains.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)


    • Eliminates 25-to-life sentences for “three-strike” defendants whose qualifying felony conviction is not a serious or violent offense.

    • Creates new resentencing mechanism for three-strike prisoners now serving 25-to- life terms for convictions on nonserious or nonviolent qualifying felonies.

    • Mandates a doubling of the new base term on three-strike defendants, in lieu of 25-to-life terms, not including existing sentencing enhancements.

    • Maintains 25-to-life terms for nonserious, nonviolent three-strike defendants with new or prior offenses on some drug, sex and gun felonies.
    Cops and Prosecutors

    Steve Cooley District Attorney of Los Angeles County
    George Gascón District Attorney of San Francisco City and County
    Jeffrey Rosen District Attorney of Santa Clara County
    Charlie Beck Police Chief of Los Angeles
    Jackie Lacy Chief Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles County
    Bill Bratton Fmr. Chief of Police of Los Angeles
    Joseph McNamara Fmr. Chief of Police of San Jose
    Jeanne Woodford Fmr. Director California Dept. of Corrections and Warden of San Quentin State Prison
    Michael Hennessey Sheriff of San Francisco (Ret.)
    Wendy Still Chief Adult Probation Officer of San Francisco
    Matha Boersch Fmr. Federal Prosecutor
    James Brosnahan Fmr. Federal Prosecutor
    Angela Chan Police Commissioner of San Francisco

    sleeeepy (b5f718)

  25. I was a fence sitter till Sleeepy piped up, now I’m again’ it.

    ropelight (00e3cb)

  26. I think it should be noted that the two candidates for LA County DA have clear positions on Prop 36. Jackie Lacey strongly supports Prop 36, while Alan Jackson opposes it. The LA Times endorses Ms Lacey.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  27. Slurpy likes to have others think for it.

    JD (436368)

  28. Is Soros insane? What is his interest in this issue, and in California?

    I think our residents here have a death wish (and people like Soros are enablers) when I read this is passing and Prop 32 is losing.

    Prop 32 will continue the conveyor belt of money from the taxpayers to the public employees to the unions and back to the Dems.

    The first year these dues were mandated, my union gave $7 million to PACs all over the nation. We filed suit and got out but the law is still there.

    Death wish!

    Patricia (e1d89d)

  29. daleyrocks, it goes beyond that. DuPage County jail houses Texas prisoners for pay, that I know for sure. The government got into prisons for profit, too. Marion? Rented out to the feds?

    nk (875f57)

  30. “DuPage County jail houses Texas prisoners for pay, that I know for sure. The government got into prisons for profit, too. Marion? Rented out to the feds?”

    nk – Earning revenue from underutilized or idle taxpayer owned assets sounds like a good thing to me, not a subject for criticism.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  31. JRM: You are correct and I have added this update:

    UPDATE: Added the words “certain forms of” to the post. Some vehicular manslaughter priors will deprive third strikers of the chance to petition for freedom, but not all. Thanks to JRM.

    I actually meant to fix that this morning but got distracted. Thanks for reminding me.

    Patterico (8b3905)

  32. When I read it – it includes homicides defined in section 187 (murder) to 191.5 (vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated) inclusive, I immediately was shocked. Then I thought, “There’s no way they excluded voluntary manslaughter. Maybe there’s a definition somewhere before PC 192.”

    But I was wrong about possibly being wrong.

    I’m reminded of Stanley Mosk’s concurring opinion where he decried the initiative process, saying that such initiatives don’t go through normal legislative channels and therefore contain terrible language that would never survive that process. He had to walk that back in a later concurrence in which a similar, significant drafting error had occurred in legislatively passed legislation.

    (And, of course, Pat’s effort is doomed. This measure is going to pass. It’s significantly less bad than the dreadful Prop 66, but that’s a very low bar to meet.)

    JRM (cd0a37)

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