something to eat and forging a check for $146 at Nordstrom have been sentenced
to life in prison.
Opponents, including the California District Attorneys Association, say locking up repeat offenders has improved public safety -- and that the current law gives prosecutors and judges the discretion they need to put away people who seem bound to offend again, even if their most recent crime was minor.
If neither initiative passes, advocates vow to keep trying to steer the state in a different direction on crime.
"This is how you get things changed," said Michael J. Brennan, a USC law professor. "Four years from now, eight years from now, it has a much better chance of passing."
News researcher Leigh Poitinger contributed to this report.
Red on crime
55: Number of crime-related propositions on California ballot in the past 100 years
4: Number of measures passed that curbed power of criminal justice system
38: Number of tough-on-crime propositions that passed
13: Number of crime-related measures that failed
What it does: For offenders who have never been convicted of rape, murder or child molestation, it reduces the sentence for a third-strike felony that is not "serious" or "violent" (as defined by the penal code) from life to double the usual sentence. About 3,000 current three-strikers would be eligible to apply to a judge for a reduced sentence.
Supporters: Republican Steve Cooley, district attorney of Los Angeles County; Democratic district attorneys Jeff Rosen (Santa Clara County) and George Gascon (San Francisco); liberal billionaire George Soros; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck.
Opponents: California Republican Party; Mike Reynolds, a Fresno man who helped draft the Three Strikes Law after his daughter was slain in 1992 by two repeat offenders; Peace Officers Research Association of California.
Money raised to date in support: $2.3 million
Money raised to date against: $105,000
What it does: Eliminates the death penalty and replaces it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, including for the 726 inmates now on death row. Creates a $100 million fund over the four years to law enforcement agencies to solve rape and homicide cases.
Supporters: Former San Quentin Warden Jeanne Woodford; American Civil Liberties Union; League of Women Voters; California Democratic Party.
Opponents: California District Attorneys Association; California State Sheriffs' Association; California Republican Party.
Money raised to date in support: $5.3 million
Money raised to date against: $246,500
States without death penalty
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have abandoned the death penalty through legislation. But California lawmakers do not have that choice: Because voters amended the state constitution in 1978 to add the death penalty, only voters can eliminate it.
Here are the states that have already eliminated the death penalty:
New Jersey (2007)
New Mexico (2009)*
New York (2007)
North Dakota (1973)
Rhode Island (1984)
West Virginia (1965)
*Repeal was not retroactive, leaving inmates on death row.
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