Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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State of California
Proposition 20 — Changes to Criminal Penalties and Parole Initiative Statute - Majority Approval Required

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RESTRICTS PAROLE FOR CERTAIN OFFENSES CURRENTLY CONSIDERED TO BE NON-VIOLENT. AUTHORIZES FELONY SENTENCES FOR CERTAIN OFFENSES CURRENTLY TREATED ONLY AS MISDEMEANORS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Limits access to parole program established for non-violent offenders who have completed the full term of their primary offense by eliminating eligibility for certain offenses.

Fiscal impact: Increase in state and local correctional, court, and law enforcement costs likely in the tens of millions of dollars annually, depending on implementation.

Put on the Ballot by Petition Signatures

What is this proposal?

Easy Voter Guide — Summary for new and busy voters

Information provided by The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

The way it is now

Felonies are considered by the legal system to be the most severe crimes. Less severe crimes are called misdemeanors. When people get out of prison for a felony, they may spend time on parole. Over the past 10 years, lawmakers and voters have reduced punishments for people convicted of some nonviolent crimes. This has let some people out of prison earlier.

What if it passes?

Prop 20 would undo parts of the crime laws passed by lawmakers and voters over the past 10 years. Some “petty theft” crimes could be punished as felonies. People convicted of stealing items worth $250-950 could be sent to county jail for up to three years, in some cases. Prop 20 would also change the factors that can be considered for early release from prison and limit early release for people convicted of some felonies. The state would collect DNA from adults convicted of some misdemeanor crimes, such as drug possession, shoplifting and domestic violence.

Budget effect

The effects of Prop 20 would depend on how the law is applied and if it is challenged in court. If Prop 20 fully took effect, it could increase costs for law enforcement, courts and the correctional system in the tens of millions of dollars each year.

People FOR say

  • Prop 20 prevents violent criminals from getting out of prison early.
  • Collecting DNA from people convicted of drug possession or shoplifting will help solve more serious crimes, such as rape.

People AGAINST say

  • California already has some of the toughest laws against serious and violent crime.
  • Prop 20 wastes millions of dollars on prisons that could be spent on education, healthcare or affordable housing.

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

The Question

Should California law be amended to make changes to the process by which people are charged with certain crimes and the process for granting them parole?

The Situation

In the past decade, California has passed three measures— AB 109 (2011), Proposition 47 (2014), and Proposition 57 (2016)—intended to reduce the state prison population, as ordered in district court and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. AB 109 shifted people convicted of a variety of nonviolent felonies from state to local county jails (a change called realignment). Proposition 47 redefined certain nonviolent, non-serious felonies as misdemeanors unless the defendant had previous convictions for certain violent crimes, and it allowed resentencing for people convicted for the redefined offenses. Proposition 57 increased opportunities for parole for people convicted of nonviolent felonies who had completed the sentence for their primary offense.

Though these measures have brought the overall state prison population below 137.5% of capacity, as ordered by the Supreme Court, many individual prisons are still operating above that percentage. 

The Proposal

Prop 20 would change various provisions of AB 109 and Props 47 and 57.

1. Certain theft and fraud offenses that were made misdemeanors by Prop 47 would become “wobblers,” meaning they could be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, regardless of the value of the items stolen. It also would establish the categories of serial crime and organized retail crime, which also would be chargeable as wobblers.

2. Prop 20 requires the collection of DNA from people convicted for a variety of crimes, including some crimes that were redefined as misdemeanors by Prop 47.

3. Prop 20 creates a list of criteria for the Board of Parole Hearings to use in considering whether to grant parole to an inmate convicted of a nonviolent crime under the provisions of Prop 57. It would allow prosecutors to review information about the inmate and to review the Board’s decision, and it would allow victims’ families to participate in parole review.

4. Prop 20 expands the list of crimes classified as violent crimes in order to exclude those crimes from the provisions of Prop 57.

5. Prop 20 makes changes to the information provided to local officials when a person is released to supervision (parole or probation) and requires that counties request that parole or probation be revoked if someone violates the terms of post-release supervision for a third time.

Fiscal effect

Precise costs are difficult to estimate, but because it would result in an increase in the prison population and change the way post-release supervision is handled, Prop 20 would increase state and local costs by tens of millions of dollars annually.

Supporters say

  • Prop 20 reclassifies certain crimes, like assault with a deadly weapon, date rape, and child abuse, as violent.
  • Prop 20 would not increase the prison population; it would only ensure that people convicted of these crimes serve their full sentences.
  • Prop 20 will help stop car break-ins, shoplifting, and other theft that has been on the rise.

Opponents say

  • Prop 20 will roll back prison reforms and cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually.
  • Prop 20 slashes mental health and rehabilitation programs that help to prepare people for release from prison and reduce repeat offenses.
  • Prop 20 will result in extreme sentences for petty theft and will disproportionately impact vulnerable minorities.

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

A YES vote on this measure means: People who commit certain theft-related crimes (such as repeat shoplifting) could receive increased penalties (such as longer jail terms). Additional factors would be considered for the state's process for releasing certain inmates from prison early. Law enforcement would be required to collect DNA samples from adults convicted of certain misdemeanors.

NO vote means

A NO vote on this measure means: Penalties for people who commit certain theft-related crimes would not be increased. There would be no change to the state's process for releasing certain inmates from prison early. Law enforcement would continue to be required to collect DNA samples from adults only if they are arrested for a felony or required to register as sex offenders or arsonists.

Summary

Source: Attorney General - Official Voter Information Guide p. 44

OFFICIAL TITLE AND SUMMARY
PREPARED BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL 

RESTRICTS PAROLE FOR CERTAIN OFFENDERS. AUTHORIZES FELONY SENTENCES FOR CERTAIN OFFENSES CURRENTLY TREATED ONLY AS MISDEMEANORS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

  • Limits access to parole program established for non-violent offenders who have completed the full term of their primary offense by eliminating eligibility for certain offenses.
  • Changes standards and requirements governing parole decisions under this program.
  • Authorizes felony charges for specified theft crimes currently chargeable only as misdemeanors, including some theft crimes where the value is between $250 and $950.
  • Requires persons convicted of specified misdemeanors to submit to collection of DNA samples for state database.

SUMMARY OF LEGISLATIVE ANALYST’S ESTIMATE OF NET STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT FISCAL IMPACT:

  • Increased state and local correctional costs likely in the tens of millions of dollars annually, primarily due to increases in county jail populations and levels of community supervision.
  • Increased state and local court-related costs that could be more than several million dollars annually.
  • Increased state and local law enforcement costs not likely to be more than a few million dollars annually related to collecting and processing DNA samples.

https://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2020/general/pdf/complete-vig.pdf#page=44

 

Background

Source: California Legislative Analyst's Office - Official Voter Information Guide pp. 44-48

CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR CERTAIN THEFT-RELATED CRIMES

BACKGROUND

A felony is the most severe type of crime. State law defines some felonies as “violent” or “serious,” or both. Examples of felonies defined as violent and serious include murder, robbery, and rape. Felonies that are not defined as violent or serious include human trafficking and selling drugs. A misdemeanor is a less severe crime. Misdemeanors include crimes such as assault and public drunkenness.

Felony Sentencing. People convicted of felonies can be sentenced as follows:

  • State Prison. People whose current or past convictions include serious, violent, or sex crimes can be sentenced to state prison.
  • County Jail and/or Community Supervision. People who have no current or past convictions for serious, violent, or sex crimes are typically sentenced to county jail or are supervised by county probation officers in the community, or both.

Misdemeanor Sentencing. People convicted of misdemeanors can be sentenced to county jail, county community supervision, a fine, or some combination of the three. They are generally punished less than people convicted of felonies. For example, a misdemeanor sentence cannot exceed one year in jail while a felony sentence can require a much longer time in jail or prison. In addition, people convicted of misdemeanors are usually supervised in the community for fewer years and may not be supervised as closely by probation officers.

Wobbler Sentencing. Currently, some crimes—such as identity theft—can be punished as either a felony or a misdemeanor. These crimes are known as “wobblers.” The decision is generally based on the specifics of the crime and a person’s criminal history.

Proposition 47 Reduced Penalties for Certain Crimes. In November 2014, voters approved Proposition 47, which resulted in certain theft-related crimes being punished as misdemeanors instead of felonies. For example, under Proposition 47, theft involving property worth $950 or less is generally considered petty theft and punished as a misdemeanor—rather than as a felony as was sometimes possible before (such as if a car was stolen). Proposition 47 also generally requires that shoplifting involving $950 or less be punished as a misdemeanor—rather than a felony as was possible before.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

COMMUNITY SUPERVISION PRACTICES

BACKGROUND

People who are released from state prison after serving a sentence for a serious or violent crime are supervised for a period of time in the community by state parole agents. People who are released from prison after serving a sentence for other crimes are usually supervised in the community by county probation officers—commonly referred to as Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS). When people on state parole or PRCS break the rules that they are required to follow while supervised— referred to as breaking the “terms of their supervision”—state parole agents or county probation officers can choose to ask a judge to change the terms of their supervision. This can result in harsher terms or placement in county jail.

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PROPOSITION 57 RELEASE CONSIDERATION PROCESS

BACKGROUND

People in prison have been convicted of a primary crime. This is generally the crime for which they receive the longest amount of time in prison. They often serve additional time due to the facts of their cases (such as if they used a gun) or for other, lesser crimes they were convicted of at the same time. For example, people previously convicted of a serious or violent crime generally must serve twice the term for any new felony they commit.

In November 2016, voters approved Proposition 57, which changed the State Constitution to make prison inmates convicted of nonviolent felonies eligible to be considered for release after serving the term for their primary crimes. Inmates are considered for release by the state Board of Parole Hearings (BPH). Specifically, a BPH staff member reviews various information in the inmate’s files, such as criminal history and behavior in prison, to determine if the inmate will be released. BPH also considers any letters submitted by prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, and victims about the inmate. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) contacts victims registered with the state to notify them that they can submit such letters. The inmate is released unless BPH decides that the inmate poses an unreasonable risk of violence. If not released, the inmate can request a review of the decision. Inmates who are denied release are reconsidered the following year, though they often complete their sentences and are released before then. In 2019, BPH considered nearly 4,600 inmates and approved about 860 (19 percent) for release.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

DNA COLLECTION

BACKGROUND

In California, DNA samples must be provided by (1) adults arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a felony; (2) youth who have committed a felony; and (3) people required to register as sex offenders or arsonists. These samples are collected by state and local law enforcement agencies and submitted to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) for processing. DOJ currently receives roughly 100,000 DNA samples each year. DOJ stores the DNA profiles in a statewide DNA database and submits them to a national database. These databases are used by law enforcement to investigate crimes.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Source: California Legislative Analyst's Office - Official Voter Information Guide pp. 44-48

OVERVIEW

Proposition 20 has four major provisions. It:

  • Changes state law to increase criminal penalties for some theft-related crimes.
  • Changes how people released from state prison are supervised in the community.
  • Makes various changes to the process created by Proposition 57 (2016) for considering the release of inmates from prison.
  • Requires state and local law enforcement to collect DNA from adults convicted of certain crimes.

Below, we discuss each of these major provisions and describe the fiscal effects of the proposition. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR CERTAIN THEFT-RELATED CRIMES

PROPOSAL

Increases Penalties for Certain Theft-Related Crimes. Proposition 20 creates two new theft-related crimes:

  • Serial Theft. Any person with two or more past convictions for certain theft-related crimes (such as burglary, forgery, or carjacking) who is found guilty of shoplifting or petty theft involving property worth more than $250 could be charged with serial theft.
  • Organized Retail Theft. Any person acting with others who commits petty theft or shoplifting two or more times where the total value of property stolen within 180 days exceeds $250 could be charged with organized retail theft.

Both of these new crimes would be wobblers, punishable by up to three years in county jail, even if the person has a past conviction for a serious, violent, or sex crime. 

In addition, Proposition 20 allows some existing theft-related crimes that are generally punished as misdemeanors under Proposition 47 to be punished as felonies. For example, under current law, theft of all property worth less than $950 from a store is generally required to be punished as a misdemeanor. Under Proposition 20, people who steal property worth less than $950 that is not for sale (such as a cash register) from a store could receive felony sentences. This could increase the amount of time people convicted of these crimes serve. For example, rather than serving up to six months in county jail, they could serve up to three years in county jail or state prison.

We estimate that a few thousand people could be affected by the above changes each year. However, this estimate is based on the limited data available, and the actual number of people affected would depend on choices made by prosecutors and judges. As a result, the actual number could be significantly higher or lower.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

COMMUNITY SUPERVISION PRACTICES

PROPOSAL

Changes Community Supervision Practices. This proposition makes various changes to state parole and PRCS practices. For example, it requires probation officers to ask a judge to change the terms of supervision for people on PRCS if they have violated them for a third time. In addition, the proposition requires state parole and county probation departments to exchange more information about the people they supervise.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

PROPOSITION 57 RELEASE CONSIDERATION PROCESS

PROPOSAL

Changes Proposition 57 Release Consideration Process. Proposition 20 makes various changes to the Proposition 57 release consideration process. The major changes are:

  • Excluding some inmates from the process—such as those convicted of some types of assault and domestic violence.
  • Requiring BPH to deny release to inmates who pose an unreasonable risk of committing felonies that result in victims, rather than only those who pose an unreasonable risk of violence.
  • Requiring BPH to consider additional issues, such as the inmates’ attitudes about their crimes, when deciding whether to release them.
  • Requiring inmates denied release to wait two years (rather than one) before being reconsidered by BPH.
  • Allowing prosecutors to request that BPH perform another review of release decisions.
  • Requiring CDCR to try to locate victims to notify them of the review even if they are not registered with the state.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

DNA COLLECTION

PROPOSAL

Expands DNA Collection. This proposition requires state and local law enforcement to also collect DNA samples from adults convicted of certain misdemeanors. These crimes include shoplifting, forging checks, and certain domestic violence crimes. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

https://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2020/general/pdf/complete-vig.pdf#page=44

Financial effect

Source: Legislative Analyst's Office - Official Voter Information Guide pp. 48-49

FISCAL EFFECTS

The proposition would have various fiscal effects on state and local government. However, the exact size of the effects discussed below would depend on several factors. One key factor would be decisions made by the courts and others (such as county probation departments and prosecutors) about how the proposition would be implemented. For example, the proposition seeks to change certain inmates’ constitutional eligibility to be considered for release under Proposition 57 without changing the State Constitution. If the proposition were challenged in court, a judge might rule that certain provisions cannot be put into effect. Our estimates below of the fiscal effects on state and local government assume that the proposition is fully implemented. In total, the estimated increase in state costs reflects less than one percent of the state’s current General Fund budget. (The General Fund is the state’s main operating account, which it uses to pay for education, prisons, health care, and other services.)

State and Local Correctional Costs. The proposition would increase state and local correctional costs in three ways.

  • First, the increase in penalties for theft-related crimes would increase correctional costs mostly by increasing county jail populations and the level of community supervision for some people.
  • Second, the changes to community supervision practices would increase state and local costs in various ways. For example, the requirement that county probation officers seek to change the terms of supervision for people on PRCS who violate them for a third time could increase county jail populations if this causes more people to be placed in jail.
  • Third, the changes made to the Proposition 57 release consideration process would increase state costs by reducing the number of inmates released from prison and generally increasing the cost of the process.

We estimate that more than several thousand people would be affected by the proposition each year. As a result, we estimate that the increase in state and local correctional costs would likely be in the tens of millions of dollars annually. The actual increase would depend on several uncertain factors, such as the specific number of people affected by the proposition. 

State and Local Court-Related Costs. The proposition would increase state and local court-related costs. This is because it would result in some people being convicted of felonies for certain theft-related crimes instead of misdemeanors. Because felonies take more time for courts to handle than misdemeanors, workload for the courts, county prosecutors and public defenders, and county sheriffs (who provide court security) would increase. In addition, requiring probation officers to ask judges to change the terms of supervision for people on PRCS after their third violation would result in additional court workload. We estimate that these court-related costs could be more than several million dollars annually, depending on the actual number of people affected by the proposition.

State and Local Law Enforcement Costs. The proposition would increase state and local law enforcement costs by expanding the number of people who are required to provide DNA samples, possibly by tens of thousands annually. We estimate that the increase in state and local law enforcement costs would likely not be more than a few million dollars annually.

Other Fiscal Effects. There could be other unknown fiscal effects on state and local governments due to the proposition. For example, if the increase in penalties reduces crime, some criminal justice system costs could be avoided. The extent to which this or other effects would occur is unknown. 

https://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2020/general/pdf/complete-vig.pdf#page=48

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Arguments are the opinions of the authors, and have not been checked for accuracy by any official agency. 

Proposition 20 closes a loophole in the law that now allows convicted child molesters, sexual predators and others convicted of violent crimes to be released from prison early. Proposition 20 also expands DNA collection to help solve rapes, murders and other serious crimes, and strengthens sanctions against habitual thieves who steal repeatedly.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR:
Nina Salarno Besselman, Proponent
Yes on 20—Keep California Safe
YesOn20.org

— Source: California Secretary of State - Official Voter Information Guide p. 11

Arguments FOR

Arguments are the opinions of the authors, and have not been checked for accuracy by any official agency. 

ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF PROPOSITION 20 

“He slashed at me with a knife and tried to kill me,” says Terra Newell, who survived a knife attack by the sociopath Dirty John. “It was brutal and terrifying—but in California, his attack wasn’t a violent crime.”

Under California law, assault with a deadly weapon is classified a “nonviolent” offense—along with date rape, selling children for sex, and 19 other clearly violent crimes.

All are “nonviolent” under the law.

Proposition 20 fixes this.

“Nonviolent” crimes in California include domestic violence, exploding a bomb, shooting into a house with the intent to kill or injure people, raping an unconscious person and beating a child so savagely it could result in coma or death.

Sex traffickers typically beat, rape and drug their victims before selling them for sex. But in California, trafficking is a “nonviolent” offense. Even hate crimes are considered “nonviolent.”

As a result, thousands of offenders convicted of these 22 violent crimes, including sex offenders and child molesters, are eligible for early prison release, WITHOUT serving their full sentences, and WITHOUT their victims being warned.

Proposition 20 PREVENTS the early release of violent offenders and sexual predators by making these 22 violent crimes “violent” under the law, and requires that victims be notified when their assailants are set free.

Proposition 20’s “full sentence” provision applies ONLY to violent inmates who pose a risk to public safety, regardless of race or ethnicity. It does NOT apply to drug offenders and petty criminals, and does NOT send more people to prison.

“Claims that Proposition 20 will fill our prisons with thousands of new inmates are false,” says Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys.

“It doesn’t send one new person to prison. It simply requires violent offenders and sexual predators to complete their full sentences.”

This protects victims and gives offenders longer access to counseling, anger management and other rehabilitation programs.

“Proposition 20 protects children against physical abuse and sexual exploitation,” says Klaas Kids Foundation founder Marc Klaas. “Trafficking children will finally be recognized as the violent crime it is.”

Proposition 20 provides additional protection against violent crime by allowing DNA collection from persons convicted of theft or drug offenses, which multiple studies show helps solve more serious and violent crimes like rape, robbery and murder.

California reduced penalties for theft in 2014. Since then, major theft has increased 25%, costing grocers, small business owners, retailers, homeowners and consumers billions of dollars. Shoplifting has become so common it’s seldom reported.

Proposition 20 strengthens sanctions against serial theft by habitual criminals—to help stop car break-ins, shoplifting, home burglaries and other major theft. California’s drug addiction crisis is fueling much of this theft.

By strengthening sanctions against theft, Proposition 20 helps get addicts (who are 75% of California’s homeless population) off the streets and into the substance abuse and mental health programs they desperately need.

Voting “YES” on Proposition 20 is a vote against hate and violence.

It’s a vote for children, victims and survivors.

It’s a vote for equal justice and a safer California.

PATRICIA WENSKUNAS, Founder
Crime Survivors, Inc.

NINA SALARNO BESSELMAN, President
Crime Victims United of California

CHRISTINE WARD, Director
Crime Victims Alliance

https://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2020/general/pdf/complete-vig.pdf#page=50

— Source: California Secretary of State - Official Voter Information Guide pp. 50-51

Arguments AGAINST

Arguments are the opinions of the authors, and have not been checked for accuracy by any official agency. 

Prop. 20 is a prison spending scam. California already has severe and lengthy sentences—including life in prison—for serious and violent crimes. Prison special interests want to scare you into spending tens of millions on prisons which could force draconian cuts to rehabilitation, schools, mental health, and homelessness.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AGAINST:
Dana Williamson
Stop the Prison Spending Scam, No on Prop 20
1787 Tribute Road, Suite K
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 382-4686
NoOnProp20@gmail.com
NoProp20.vote

— Source: California Secretary of State - Official Voter Information Guide p. 11

Arguments AGAINST

Arguments are the opinions of the authors, and have not been checked for accuracy by any official agency. 

ARGUMENT AGAINST PROPOSITION 20

STOP THE PRISON SPENDING SCAM—VOTE NO ON PROP. 20!

California already has lengthy sentences and strict punishment for serious and violent crime. Backers of Prop. 20 are trying to scare you into rolling back effective criminal justice reforms you just passed, to spend tens of millions of your taxpayer dollars on prisons.

Don’t be fooled. Every year, thousands are convicted of felonies with long sentences. The problem isn’t sentencing, it’s what happens in prison to prepare people for release. Prop 20 could slash mental health treatment and rehabilitation programs— proven strategies to reduce repeat crime. That will make us all less safe.

Crime victims, law enforcement leaders as well as budget and rehabilitation experts oppose Prop. 20 because it wastes tens of millions on prisons while cutting rehabilitation programs and support for crime victims. Prop. 20 is a prison spending scam that takes us backwards.

PROP. 20 WASTES YOUR MONEY ON PRISONS.
Prop. 20 will spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars— your money—on prisons. California is facing massive cuts to schools, health care, and other critical services. Spending tens of millions more on prisons right now is a wasteful scam.

PROP. 20 IGNORES HOMELESSNESS, SCHOOLS, MENTAL HEALTH, AND HOUSING.
We must always do more to address crime, but Prop. 20 will make things worse. Prop. 20 wastes tens of millions of your taxpayer dollars on prisons that would be better spent on schools, homelessness, mental health treatment, and affordable housing.

PROP. 20 IS EXTREME.
Prop 20 means that theft over $250 could be charged as a felony. That’s extreme, out of line with other states, and means more teenagers and Black, Latino and low income people could be locked up for years for low-level, non-violent crimes.

PROP 20 CUTS THE USE OF REHABILITATION—MAKING US LESS SAFE.
Rehabilitation is a proven strategy to reduce repeat crime, so people become law-abiding, productive, taxpaying citizens. Prop 20 could cut rehabilitation—meaning fewer people would be ready to re-enter society when they are released, which would harm public safety.

PROP. 20 REDUCES NECESSARY SUPPORT FOR CRIME VICTIMS.
While overspending on prisons, Prop. 20 will slash financial support available to help victims of crime recover from trauma.

PROP. 20 TAKES US BACKWARDS.
California has made progress, carefully enacting modest reforms to reduce wasteful prison spending, and expand rehabilitation and other alternatives that have proven to costeffectively reduce and prevent crime. People are demanding more changes to fix unjust policies that disproportionately harm poor people and people of color. Prop. 20 would repeal the progress we’ve made and take us backwards toward the failed, wasteful, and unjust policies of the past.

EXPERTS ON CRIME, SPENDING, AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE AGREE.

Prop. 20 will NOT make our communities safer. Prop. 20 WILL waste tens of millions of YOUR taxpayer dollars on prisons—causing CUTS to critical services people need.

STOP the Prison Spending Scam. VOTE NO on Prop. 20!

NoProp20.vote

#StopthePrisonSpendingScam

TINISCH HOLLINS, California Director
Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice

WILLIAM LANDSDOWNE, Police Chief (ret.)
City of San Diego

MICHAEL COHEN, Director of Finance (fmr.)
State of California 

https://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2020/general/pdf/complete-vig.pdf#page=51

— Source: California Secretary of State - Official Voter Information Guide pp. 50-51

Replies to Arguments FOR

Arguments are the opinions of the authors, and have not been checked for accuracy by any official agency. 

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF PROPOSITION 20

NO ON PROP. 20—IT’S A PRISON SPENDING SCAM

We are prosecutors and survivors of violent crimes. Prop. 20 backers are wrong, here’s the truth:

SENTENCING LAWS FOR VIOLENT CRIMES ARE CLEAR AND STRONG

People who commit violent crimes receive severe and lengthy sentences, often life in prison. That’s NOT what Prop. 20 is about.

PROP. 20 WASTES TENS OF MILLIONS OF YOUR TAXPAYER DOLLARS ON PRISONS

The non-partisan Legislative Analyst says Prop. 20 will cost, “tens of millions of dollars” every year which could force draconian cuts to:

  • Rehabilitation in prison for people getting out
  • Mental health programs proven to reduce repeat crime
  • Schools, housing, and homelessness
  • Support for victims

PROP. 20 IS EXTREME

Prop 20 means petty theft—stealing a bike—could be charged as a felony. That’s out of line with other states and means more teenagers and Black, Latino and low-income people could be incarcerated for years for a low-level, non-violent crime.

PROP. 20 TAKES US BACKWARDS

Californians have overwhelmingly voted to reduce wasteful prison spending. Prop. 20 reverses that progress. Rehabilitating people before prison release is the most effective way to improve public safety. Prop. 20 could eliminate funding for what works, and waste money on more prisons we don’t need.

Law enforcement leaders, budget experts, criminal justice reformers, prosecutors, and crime victims all oppose this prison spending scam.

NoProp20.Vote

DIANA BECTON, District Attorney
Contra Costa County

RENEE WILLIAMS, Executive Director
National Center for Victims of Crime

TINISCH HOLLINS, California Director
Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice 

https://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2020/general/pdf/complete-vig.pdf#page=50

— Source: California Secretary of State - Official Voter Information Guide pp. 50-51

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Arguments are the opinions of the authors, and have not been checked for accuracy by any official agency. 

REBUTTAL TO ARGUMENT AGAINST PROPOSITION 20 

Opponents ignore what Proposition 20 really does—it PREVENTS convicted child molesters, sexual predators and other violent inmates from being released from prison early.

Under current law, these inmates now qualify for early release because their violent crimes are classified as “nonviolent.”

Proposition 20 closes this loophole, making crimes like date rape, child trafficking, spouse beating, and assault with a deadly weapon “violent” under the law.

“Proposition 20 does NOT send one new person to prison,” says Michael Rushford, President of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. “It does NOT allocate funds for new prisons, nor slash funding for mental health and rehabilitation programs. These are FALSE arguments.”

Opponents claim Proposition 20 makes petty theft a “serious felony,” and say offenders “could be locked up in state prison for years.”

Both claims are untrue.

Read the initiative. Proposition 20 specifically targets HABITUAL thieves who REPEATEDLY steal. And it specifically FORBIDS convicted offenders from being sent to state prison. Instead, they’ll be directed to local jail or rehabilitation programs.

By targeting only violent offenders and habitual criminals, Proposition 20 protects ALL Californians, including people of color, who studies show suffer disproportionately from violent crime.

We all want to reform our justice system. But allowing violent offenders to leave prison early isn’t reform. It’s a threat to public safety.

Proposition 20 is REAL reform that protects victims and ensures equal justice.

Vote YES on Proposition 20.

FRANK LEE, President
Organization for Justice and Equality

ERIC R. NUÑEZ, President
California Police Chiefs Association

PATRICIA WENSKUNAS, Founder
Crime Survivors Inc. 

https://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2020/general/pdf/complete-vig.pdf#page=51

— Source: California Secretary of State - Official Voter Information Guide pp. 50-51

Who gave money?

Contributions

Yes on Proposition 20

Total money raised: $1,861,787
Bar graph showing total amount relative to total amount for this entire campaign.

No on Proposition 20

Total money raised: $22,752,056
Bar graph showing total amount relative to total amount for this entire campaign.

Below are the top 10 contributors that gave money to committees supporting or opposing the ballot measures.

Yes on Proposition 20

1
California Grocers Association
$500,000
2
Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC)
$400,000
3
Devin Nunes Campaign Committee FEC ID # C00370056
$305,500
4
Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS)
$200,000
5
Riverside Sheriffs' Association
$175,000
6
California Business Roundtable
$95,000
7
Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association (SEBA)
$75,000
8
Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff's Association
$25,000
9
Republican Party of Tulare County
$20,000
10
California Fuels & Convenience Alliance (CFCA)
$10,000
10
San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs Association
$10,000
10
Sempra Energy
$10,000

No on Proposition 20

1
Brown for Governor 2014
$14,713,774
2
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
$2,400,000
3
Quillin, Patty
$2,000,000
4
OSPC, Inc.
$1,000,000
5
Heising, Mark
$512,500
5
Simons, Elizabeth
$512,500
6
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
$500,000
6
Schusterman, Stacy H.
$500,000
7
Schusterman, Lynn
$250,000
8
SSP Universe Trust, a Trust for Susan Pritzker's Benefit
$100,000

More information about contributions

Yes on Proposition 20

By State:

California 99.51%
Louisiana 0.25%
Virginia 0.24%
99.51%

By Size:

Large contributions (99.92%)
Small contributions (0.08%)
99.92%

By Type:

From organizations (99.79%)
From individuals (0.21%)
99.79%

No on Proposition 20

By State:

California 89.67%
New York 6.59%
Oklahoma 3.30%
Nevada 0.44%
89.67%

By Size:

Large contributions (100.00%)
Small contributions (0.00%)
100.00%

By Type:

From organizations (83.32%)
From individuals (16.68%)
83.32%16.68%

More information

Videos (6)

— September 9, 2020 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXfcYhuCXUE&ab_channel=KCETOnline
Prop 20 adds to the list of violent crimes for which early parole is restricted in California, allowing certain types of theft and fraud crimes to be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. It also requires DNA collection for some misdemeanors. Proponents say child sex trafficking, spousal abuse and some types of rape aren’t defined as violent crimes and repeat thieves are treated like shoplifters.
— October 4, 2020 League of Women Voters of San Diego
Ballot measures can sometimes feel like trick questions. We at the League of Women Voters are dedicated to providing non-partisan "prop talks" to help break down each measure. We will present the pros and cons of how these policies will impact your day to day life.
If Proposition 20 passes, it would restrict the option of early parole for more crimes and increase penalties for certain theft-related crimes.
Si se aprueba la Proposición 20, restringiría la opción de libertad condicional anticipada para más delitos y aumentaría las penas para ciertos delitos relacionados con el robo.
— October 12, 2020 League of Women Voters of Cupertino-Sunnyvale
This video covers all 12 Propositions, Measure 20 starts at time: 24:38
— October 18, 2020 League of Women Voters of Southwest Santa Clara Valley

Events (5)

Contact Info

Yes on Proposition 20
Yes on 20—Keep California Safe
Contact Name:

Nina Salarno Besselman, Proponent

No on Proposition 20
Stop the Prison Spending Scam, No on Prop 20
Contact Name:

Dana Williamson

Email NoOnProp20@gmail.com
Phone: (916) 382-4686
Address:
1787 Tribute Road, Suite K
Sacramento, CA 95815
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Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Proposition 20

Organizations (122)

Elected & Appointed Officials (90)

No on Proposition 20

Organizations (99)

Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

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