The fight over proposed changes to California’s tough three-strikes sentencing law remained furious going into the final day of the campaign, says the Los Angeles Times. Both sides are launching last-minute ads today. Proposition 66 would allow a life sentence only if a person is convicted of a third felony that is violent or serious. It would remove eight crimes from the violent or serious category and would toughen sentences for some crimes against children. The proposition had been well ahead in polls until Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, backed by Henry T. Nicholas III, one of the state’s richest men, began an intense effort one week ago to defeat it.
A Field Poll released Saturday indicated that the campaign has had a major impact. People interviewed over three days, which included the launch of opposition the ads, were split, 48 percent to 47 percent. The samples had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. How many prisoners would qualify for resentencing under Proposition 66 is in dispute. Schwarzenegger’s statement that 26,000 would be released exaggerates the potential impact, the Times says. Prosecutors say 26,000 inmates are eligible. Proposition 66 backers say the number is 4,200. None would be released automatically.