More than 53 percent of California voters gave a nod to Proposition 9, the only winner among three initiatives related to the criminal justice system, says the Los Angeles Times. The measure boosts crime victims’ rights while reducing the number of parole hearings. Now it could face a different test — legal challenges from advocates for inmates. Opponents say the initiative — funded with $4.8 million from Broadcom co-founder Henry Nicholas III, a billionaire under indictment on federal fraud, conspiracy and drug charges — will raise incarceration costs by keeping inmates behind bars. Backers counter that it will save the state money by cutting down on parole hearings.
It requires the state parole board to deny parole to inmates serving possible life sentences for 15 years, three times the current maximum, unless there is “clear and convincing evidence” that a hearing should be held sooner. The initiative conflicts with a federal court settlement that takes away the right to a state-paid lawyer for every ex-convict who is accused of violating parole and facing a return to prison. Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who opposed the measure, said “huge chunks” of it might be ruled unconstitutional. Sixty percent of voters said no to Proposition 5, which promised treatment as an alternative to incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. Proposition 6, which called for nearly $1 billion in annual law-enforcement spending, was the ballot’s biggest flop. Nearly 70 percent voted against it.