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Proposition 36 at a glance

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POSTED October 7, 2012 7:37 p.m.



What it would do: Amend California's Three-Strikes law, which currently says anyone convicted of anew felony who has two or more serious or violent prior felony convictions must be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, although prosecutors and judges have discretion in imposing the third strike.

It would require that the third strike also be a serious or violent felony to qualify for the 25 years to life sentence. A second-striker convicted of a new non-serious or nonviolent offense would be sentenced again as a second-striker, with the sentence for the new felony doubled.

The initiative exempts those whose first or second strikes were homicides, forcible sex crimes or certain sexual offenses with minors, as well as those whose final offense involved certain sex offenses, large amounts of drugs, deadly weapons or the intent to cause great bodily injury.

Support: Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley says it is time to end life sentences for offenses such as petty theft, forgery or drug possession. Additional supporters include Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and district attorneys George Gascon in San Francisco and Jeffrey Rosen in Santa Clara County.

Oppose: The California District Attorneys Association says such minor prosecutions are increasingly rare and that the existing law helps deter crime. Other opponents include organizations representing sheriffs, police chiefs, crime victims and rank-and-file officers.

Campaign donations: Individuals and groups supporting the initiative had raised $2.3 million by early October, including $1 million from billionaire George Soros and $953,000 from Stanford law professor David Mills, who was one of the measure's co-authors. The Peace Officers Research Association of California contributed $100,000 in opposition.


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