California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger opposes a November ballot proposition that would reform the state’s “three-strikes” sentencing law, reports the Associated Press. Proposition 66 is doing well in early polling but faces opposition from tough-on-crime critics who say thousands of violent felons would return to the streets. The governor may not formally against the measure. “It’s extraordinarily positive to have such a popular governor helping us oppose the initiative,” said Mike Reynolds of Fresno, whose daughter’s 1992 murder helped prompt the three-strikes law.
Proposition 66 would modify the 1994 law by requiring that a convicted felon be eligible for the maximum 25-years-to-life sentence only if the third offense is “violent or serious.” The proposition would release about 25,000 felons. Opponents say they are hardened convicts while reform supporters say many are small-time crooks like shoplifters and harmless junkies. Last week, Schwarzenegger’s legal affairs secretary, Peter Siggins, told about 200 applauding members of the California District Attorneys Association that the governor opposed the proposition. How big an issue Schwarzenegger makes of three strikes could be crucial. Mark DiCamillo, whose Field Poll last month put support for the measure at more than 70 percent, said the poll numbers could be surmounted if Schwarzenegger is a visible opponent.