Two California Propositions Explained

Prop 34 and Prop 36

A protest in Washington, D.C. against the pass...

Proposition 34: the End the Death Penalty Initiative

The initiative to end the death penalty in California, titled Proposition 34, if passed will replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole. Specifically, the proposition will: apply retroactively to prisoners currently sentenced to death, require those found guilty of murder to work to pay any victim restitution fines or orders against them, and earmark $100 million to go toward helping solve rape and homicide cases.

According to California state records, the death penalty system costs taxpayers more than $114 million a year, which doesn’t include the amount spent on court cases to prosecute capital cases. The estimated cost of a capital punishment trial is $2 million, which includes legal costs, pre-tail costs, and jury selection.

I recommend voting yes on Proposition 34 because: California taxpayers would save an over $100 million a year and funds will be allocated to solve rape cases, which are consistently backlogged due to lack of funding.

From the queer perspective, injustice cuts across sexuality, race, gender, and class. As Martin Luther King Jr. said an injustice to one is an injustice to all, and of course, there is a significant MSM population in the prison system, several of which could be on death row. If those inmates have families that they are supporting, outside of the criminal justice system, voting yes on Prop 34, could positively impact their families.

Proposition 36: Changes in the “Three Strikes” Law

According to the current Three Strikes Law, if certain offenders are convicted of a felony and they have two or more strike priors, they must be sentenced to at least 25-years to life in state prison. “Strike” priors can be nonviolent crimes such as burglary, grand theft, or property damage. Three Strikes Law can lead to unjust outcomes like giving someone convicted of robbery a longer sentence than someone convicted of second-degree murder.

Proposition 36 revises Three Strikes Law to impose life sentence only when the new felony conviction is serious or violent and authorizes re-sentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if their third strike conviction was not serious or violent and if the judge determines that the re-sentence does not pose unreasonable risk to public safety.

I recommend voting yes on Proposition 36 because: approximately 3,000 convicted felons are currently serving life terms under the Three Strikes law, whose third strike conviction were for nonviolent crimes, and they will be able to petition the court for a new, reduced, sentence if the proposition is approved. Also it decreases the severity of overcrowding in California prison system, and reducing sentences of these prisoners could save the state over $100 million a year.

For information on additional Propositions (Prop 30, Prop 31, Prop 32, Prop 33, Prop 35, Prop 37, Prop 40, Prop B, and Prop J) being voted on in tomorrow’s election go to Qulture to get a complete voter’s guide.

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