ATTN CA Voters: Vote No On Prop. 9

Jenny Price is a crime victim. Her brother was murdered. It is understandable that she feels no good will for the murderer. Yet she opposes California's Prop. 9, the Victims Bill of Rights Act of 2008.

It would restrict offenders' rights from arrest to imprisonment in myriad ways. For example, it reduces the number of parole hearings inmates are entitled to and does away with state-provided lawyers for parole violators. What disturbs me most, however, is that prosecutors would be required to consider the opinions of victims' relatives on charges, sentencing and parole. The measure also would remove all limits on the number of family members who could speak at sentencing and parole hearings.

Opponents of Proposition 9 call it unnecessary (California has a victims' bill of rights, but it's not in the Constitution), expensive to enforce and vulnerable to challenges. They should be more direct: It is unjust.

In remarkably clear terms, Price explains the unfairness of a victim's "right" to influence sentencing: [more ...]

Victims' rights laws, in general, smell of revenge, which the legal system should not condone. And I can affirm that when we ask families to be involved in decisions on punishment, we legalize revenge. ...

If no punishment can bring back the person I loved, then no punishment could ever be enough. I do not care about motive, mental state, penance or rehabilitation when it comes to my brother's killer -- things the legal system rightly takes into account. So if you want justice and fairness in the process, don't ask me or the rest of my family to weigh in. Punishment for murder should not depend on how angry and bereft survivors are, or how beloved the victim was. It should not be proportional to the size of the victim's family, or to how many family members are willing to go to court or a parole hearing, or to how long they are willing to keep going to hearings. ...

We don't honor the people we lost by committing injustice in their names.

I am not speaking up for murderers. I am speaking up for me, and for families of murder victims. I am speaking up for my brother, David, who died on Nov. 4, 2000. On this Nov. 4, I hope the voters will choose not to dishonor his memory.
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    The league of women voters are (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by hairspray on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 03:44:27 PM EST
    against this measure as well as Proposition #6 which guarantees a funding floor (quite large) for the prison budget in California. The hang 'em high people are out in droves.  We are also against the parental notification as well.  The prolife people want it enshrined in the consitution.  

    while you are endorsing CA measures (none / 0) (#6)
    by manish on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 01:27:38 AM EST
    I think that the TL gang would also endorse a No on 4 (Parental Notification for abortion), Yes on 5 (lower penalties for drug offenses) and No on 6 as well as No on 8 (banning gay marriage).

    In addition to the above, I'm supporting 1A (high speed rail), No on 7 and 10 (well meaning, but bad environmental policy) and yes on 11 (redistricting reform).


    Good for you . You are voting with the league! (none / 0) (#13)
    by hairspray on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 07:51:35 PM EST
    You stated the league's positions quite well.

    Huge difference between (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by inclusiveheart on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 07:26:10 PM EST
    justice and revenge.

    It is disturbing how our "justice" system is being continually pushed towards a system of revenge.

    And this is yet another example of why I oppose ballot propositions.  They play on immediate emotions and ignore principles of justice and real consequences.

    I voted against it (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by s5 on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 07:36:06 PM EST
    fwiw, whenever the words "victims' rights" or the name of a dead kid appear in the name of a ballot prop, I reflexively vote against it.

    IIRC, I voted no. (none / 0) (#1)
    by coigue on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 03:14:57 PM EST

    Done! (none / 0) (#3)
    by Radiowalla on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 06:38:14 PM EST

    She makes a lot of good points (none / 0) (#8)
    by nyjets on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 08:08:47 AM EST
    For the most part, the author is probable correct except for one point. Reducing the number of parole hearings would be a good idea. As it stands now, relatives of murder victims have to go to parole hearing every year to make sure the murder stays in jails. That is crazy. Reducing the number of parole hearing would spare the victims this process and insure that criminals do there time.

    No they don't. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by TChris on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:44:19 AM EST
    They don't have to go, they choose to go.  Parole hearings are an opportunity to review the inmate's progress to determine whether reentry into society is appropriate.  They shouldn't be yet another opportunity for victims to vent their anger.

    In states that allow parole, victims should have zero input at parole hearings. They have their say at sentencing.  Once the defendant is sentenced, the anger of victims should not determine whether a defendant who has been rehabilitated is released on parole.


    What about the nature of the crime (none / 0) (#10)
    by nyjets on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 12:00:36 PM EST
    However, shouldn't the nature of crime determine whether parole should be even considered. I mean, if a person commited a brutal murder, should they be allowed to rejoin society even if they are 'rehabilitated.' And the only way to know that is to allow the victims relatives to testify at the hearing.

    Victims don't need to be involved. (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by TChris on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 03:01:06 PM EST
    First, whether parole is or isn't an option for a particular generic crime is determined by the legislature (which, for instance, can make "life without parole" the only legal sentence) or, in some states for some specific crimes, by the judge (who can set a parole eligibility date or sentence to life without parole).  Victims have nothing to do with deciding whether a particular generic crime (like murder) carries with it the possibility of parole.  That's a decision that society makes legislatively.  Second, parole boards learn about the nature of the crime by reading documents (like presentence reports) written by professionals that describe the specific offense in detail.  They don't need to hear about it from victims, particularly not from family members who usually aren't witnesses to the crime and aren't likely to provide an objective, accurate, dispassionate recitation of the facts.

    What I learned as I went around town (none / 0) (#14)
    by hairspray on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 08:02:54 PM EST
    making presentations  for the league on these measures, was that in Prop 9, less than 1% of those prisoners up for parole for second degree murder over a 20 yr period were ever granted parole.   The parole board is almost exclusively composed of law enforcement people and they are very loathe to grant parole especially the first few times an inmate come up for parole. Then California had Gov Davis who overrode the parole board and now even Arnold is doing the same thing.  The prison guards are very powerful in this state.

    Comment deleted. (none / 0) (#15)
    by TChris on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 08:15:13 PM EST
    Sorry, other advocacy groups can take any position they want, but TalkLeft doesn't need to drive traffic to their websites if they take a position on crime policy that is unfair to defendants, offenders, inmates, or the accused.