Five California governors oppose a ballot initiative they fear would harm public safety by easing punishment for drug offenders, reports the Associated Press. Proposition 5 would divert tens of thousands of drug offenders annually from prisons or jails into treatment programs. It expands on a similar initiative approved by voters in 2000. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was joined by predecessors Gray Davis, Pete Wilson, Jerry Brown, and George Deukmejian yesterday to explain their opposition. “We’ve cracked down on sex offenders and drug dealers and gangs,” Schwarzenegger said. “Proposition 5 will take us in the opposite direction  It was written by people who care more about the rights of criminals.”
The Yes on 5 campaign said the governors’ united front shows California prisons are a bipartisan failure. Under the governors’ reign, prison crowding ballooned to the point that federal judges are considering population limits despite the state’s construction of 21 new prisons since the 1990s. Proposition 5 shortens parole for most drug and property crimes. It prohibits sending many paroled drug offenders back to prison unless they commit a new felony or have a record of committing violent or serious crimes.