3 Strikes Ca. Reform Loss Laid To Schwarzenegger

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California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 11th-hour blitz was single-handedly responsible for defeating an initiative that would have softened the state’s three-strikes sentencing law, pollsters, analysts, and campaign insiders told the Associated Press. Polls showed nearly two-thirds in favor of the initiative before Schwarzenegger, in the campaign’s final week, began railing against Proposition 66 in television ads and appearances. Five days before the vote, the nonpartisan Field Poll showed a dead heat. The measure eventually got only 47 percent of the vote in what pollsters said was the biggest and fastest California electoral flip-flop in memory. Proposition 66 opponent Marc Klaas, whose daughter’s kidnapping spurred voters to approve the 1994 three strikes law Proposition 66 sought to weaken, said the governor “is definitely the angel in this whole thing.”

Backed by billionaire-investor George Soros and a Sacramento insurance magnate and others who donated $5 million, Proposition 66 would have altered the three strikes law by limiting the crimes triggering “third strike” life sentences. Most major newspapers editorialized in favor of the measure, saying it would stop judges from issuing life terms for shoplifters. Schwarzenegger said the measure would flood the streets with dangerous criminals. Erwin Chemerinsky, a Duke University constitutional scholar who argued the issue at the U.S. Supreme Court, said, “we have to start again with another initiative, a narrower and more carefully drafted initiative.”

Link: http://www.sacbee.com/state_wire/story/11305250p-12220095c.html

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