California Proposition 66, Changes in the "Three Strikes" Law (2004)

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This article is about a 2004 ballot proposition in California. For other measures with a similar title, see Proposition 66.
California Proposition 66 was on the November 2, 2004 ballot in California as an initiated state statute where it narrowly lost. Proposition 66, had it passed, would have softened and repealed some of the provisions of Proposition 184, the Three Strikes initiative that California voters approved with 72% of the vote in 1994.

The campaign opposing Proposition 66 made a near-miraculous comeback in the three weeks leading up to the November election, growing by nearly 30 points in the last two weeks. The anti-campaign was led by Arnold Schwarzenegger and communications-billionaire Henry Nicholas. $71,335 was spent to defeat Proposition 66, while about $5 million was spent to pass it.

Proposition 66 would have amended the Three Strikes Law to allow a life sentence only if a person is convicted of a third felony that is violent or serious. It would have removed eight crimes from the violent or serious category and toughened sentences for some crimes against children.

Election results

Proposition 66
Defeatedd No6,238,06052.7%
Yes 5,604,060 47.3%

Text of measure

Proposition 66 county vote distribution


The ballot title was:

Limitations on “Three Strikes” Law. Sex Crimes. Punishment. Initiative Statute.


The question on the ballot was:

"Should the "Three Strikes" law be limited to violent and/or serious felonies? Permits limited re-sentencing under new definitions. Increases punishment for specified sex crimes against children."


The summary of the ballot measure prepared by the California Attorney General said:

  • Amends "Three Strikes" law to require increased sentences only when current conviction is for specified violent and/or serious felony.
  • Redefines violent and serious felonies. Only prior convictions for specified violent and/or serious felonies, brought and tried separately, would qualify for second and third "strike" sentence increases.
  • Allows conditional re-sentencing of persons with sentences increased under "Three Strikes" law if previous sentencing offenses, resulting in the currently charged felony/felonies, would no longer qualify as violent and/or serious felonies.
  • Increases punishment for specified sex crimes against children.

Fiscal impact

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The estimated fiscal impact of the measure, provided by the state government, was:

  • Net state savings of potentially several tens of millions of dollars initially, increasing to several hundred million dollars annually, primarily to the prison system.
  • Increased county costs of potentially more than ten million dollars annually for jail and court-related costs.

Donors to pass Proposition 66

Website banner of the "Yes on 66" campaign
Website banner of the "No on 66" campaign

Campaign spending on Proposition 66 was lopsided, with the "Yes on 66" committee spending a little over $5 million and the "No on 66" committee spending $71,000, a ratio of 71 to 1.[1]

Donors supporting the passage of Prop 66 included Jerry Keenan, who gave a little over $2.8 million, and George Soros, John Sperling and Peter Lewis, each of whom gave $500,000.

In May 2009, Soros agreed to pay $8,000 in fines to the Fair Political Practices Commission because he did not properly disclose $500,000 in contributions he made to Proposition 66.[2]

External links