Proposition 66

    Since the passage of the overly punitive “Three Strikes” law in 1994, California prisons have housed numerous victims of the system: petty criminals serving the same sentence as dangerous felons after committing dramatically less serious crimes. Proposition 66 is the long-overdue revision of the controversial law, limiting the three strikes system to violent and/or serious felonies and providing those third-strike victims who previously committed nonviolent, nonserious crimes — many of whom are serving life sentences — the opportunity to be resentenced.

    Critics of the initiative maintain that Proposition 66 will allow felons such as rapists, murderers and kidnappers to prowl the streets once again. However, their claim is merely a scare tactic; rape, murder and kidnapping are all, by definition, violent and serious felonies, which precludes past offenders from being resentenced, let alone released.

    In fact, in addition to limiting the current three strikes system, Proposition 66 will also provide harsher punishments for sex offenses against children under 14-years-old, thereby keeping the criminals who are actually dangerous off the streets.

    Financially speaking, Proposition 66 makes sense. It will save California millions as a result of the lower prison population — and given that state prison and higher education funding come from the same allocation in the budget, a decrease in money allotted to prisons will result in an increase in funding to higher education institutions. In these rough financial times, any money the university can acquire could make all the difference. Passing this proposition would give California legislators the message once and for all that the state should be giving priority funding to universities, not penitentiaries.

    Vote “yes” on Proposition 66.

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