California Proposition 5, Non-Violent Drug Offenders (2008)
|Voting on Marijuana|
|Not on ballot|
- 1 Election results
- 2 Text of measure
- 3 Support
- 4 Opposition
- 5 Editorial opinion
- 6 Path to the ballot
- 7 External links
- 8 References
Proposition 5, if it had been approved, would have:
- Expanded drug treatment diversion programs for criminal offenders.
- Modified parole supervision procedures.
- Expanded prison and parole rehabilitation programs.
- Allowed inmates to earn additional time off their prison sentences for participation and performance in rehabilitation programs.
- Reduced certain penalties for marijuana possession.
- Made miscellaneous changes to state laws governing the administration of rehabilitation and parole programs for offenders.
|California Proposition 5|
Turnout: 79.4% of registered
Text of measure
The ballot title was:
The official summary provided to describe Proposition 5 said:
- Allocates $460,000,000 annually to improve and expand treatment programs for persons convicted of drug and other offenses.
- Limits court authority to incarcerate offenders who commit certain drug crimes, break drug treatment rules or violate parole.
- Substantially shortens parole for certain drug offenses; increases parole for serious and violent felonies.
- Divides Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation authority between two Secretaries, one with six year fixed term and one serving at pleasure of Governor. Provides five year fixed terms for deputy secretaries.
- Creates 19 member board to direct parole and rehabilitation policy.
- See also: Fiscal impact statement
The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:
- Increased state costs over time potentially exceeding $1 billion annually primarily for expanding drug treatment and rehabilitation programs for offenders in state prisons, on parole, and in the community.
- State savings over time potentially exceeding $1 billion annually due primarily to reduced prison and parole operating costs.
- Net one-time state savings on capital outlay costs for prison facilities that eventually could exceed $2.5 billion.
- Unknown net fiscal effect on county operations and capital outlay.
The official proponent of Proposition 5 was Daniel Abrahamson.
Argument in favor
Notable arguments that were made in favor of Prop 5 included:
- Prop 5 would reduce pressure on overcrowded and expensive prisons.
- Proposition 5 creates treatment options for young people with drug problems that do not exist under current law
- Voter-approved Proposition 36 provided treatment, not jail, for nonviolent drug users.
- One-third have completed treatment and became productive, tax-paying citizens.
- Since 2000, Proposition 36 has graduated 84,000 people and saved almost $2 billion."
Campaign ad supporting Proposition 5
$7,601,079 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Proposition 5.
Donors of $100,000 or more were:
|Drug Policy Alliance Network||$400,000|
- The People Against the Proposition 5 Deception was the official committee against the proposition.
- Actor Martin Sheen, who announced in late August that he would be a leading spokesperson in opposition to Proposition 5. In his announcement, he said he strongly supports treatment for drug offenders but that treatment "must be accompanied by tough penalties."
- The district attorneys of 32 California counties.
- Former Governor Gray Davis
- Former Governor Pete Wilson
- John Walters, the National Drug Control Policy director, a position that is sometimes referred to as the "U.S. drug czar." Walters flew from D.C. to California to campaign against Proposition 5 in late October, saying it "will undermine court-based treatment programs they say have succeeded over the past decade."
Five California governors (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis, Pete Wilson, Jerry Brown, and George Deukmejian) came together on October 29 to announce their joint opposition to the passage of Proposition 5.
Notable arguments made against Proposition 5 included:
- Proposition 5 has been called the "Drug Dealers’ Bill of Rights" because it shortens parole for methamphetamine dealers and other drug felons from 3 years to 6 months.
- It would "require California to spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on rehabilitation programs" during a time that the state's budget is in a deficit and its economy faltering.
- This measure may provide a 'get-out-of-jail-free' card to many of those accused of other crimes by claiming drugs made them do it, letting them effectively escape criminal prosecution."
- Proposition 5 establishes two new bureaucracies with virtually no accountability, and which will cost hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.
- According to some drug court judges in Yolo County, "This is an initiative written by an advocacy group. It is very long, encompassing 36 single-spaced pages in a relatively small font. It makes intricate and detailed amendments to a significant number of existing statutes and executive policies. We doubt that 5 percent of the voters of California will have read the entire text of this new law before they vote on it. Is this a good way to make state law?"
- Addicted defendants will be permitted five violations of probation or treatment failures based on drug use, and judges will be unable to meaningfully intervene until the sixth violation.
Campaign ad opposing Proposition 5
$2,886,965 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "no" vote on Proposition 5, to a group called People Against the Proposition 5 Deception.
Donors of $100,000 or more were:
|California Correctional Peace Officers Association||$1,000,000|
|California Republican Party||$238,000|
|Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation||$175,000|
|Save Our Society From Drugs||$115,000|
|Los Angeles Police Protective League||$101,800|
|California Beer & Beverage Distributors||$100,000|
"Yes on 5"
Newspaper editorial boards supporting the approval of Proposition 5 included:
"No on 5"
Newspaper editorial boards opposed to the passage of Proposition 5 included:
- The Los Angeles Times
- The Pasadena Star News
- San Diego Union-Tribune.
- Sacramento Bee.
- San Francisco Chronicle.
- Fresno Bee.
- San Jose Mercury News
- Stockton Record
- Contra Costa Times
- Bakersfield Californian
Path to the ballot
- See also: California signature requirements
As an initiated state statute, 433,971 signatures were required to qualify Proposition 5 for the ballot.
Lawsuit to remove
Opponents of Proposition 5, including thirty-two district attorneys and former California governors Pete Wilson and Gray Davis petitioned the California Supreme Court to issue a preemptory writ of mandate to remove Proposition 5 from the ballot. The lawsuit alleged that Proposition 5 was an attempt to alter the constitution via statute, which is unconstitutional.
The California Supreme Court declined to issue the preemptory writ. Generally, the constitutionality of an initiative in California is not reviewed by the courts until after a vote has passed and the initiative becomes law.
- Official Voter's Guide to Proposition 5
- PDF of the mailed November 4, 2008 voter guide for Proposition 5
- November 4, 2008 ballot proposition election returns (dead link)
- Proposition 5 in the Smart Voter Guide
- Analysis of Proposition 5 (dead link) from the Institute of Governmental Studies
- Guide to Proposition 5 from the California Voter Foundation
- Summary of donors to and against Proposition 5 from Cal-Access
- Donors for and against Proposition 5 from Follow The Money
- Peter Schrag: Props. 5 and 8 will make waves nationally (dead link)
- California Ballot Propositions May Start National Trend on Prisons and Rehabilitation of Drug Offenders and Same Sex Marriage (dead link)
- Follow the Money, "Donors to Yes on Proposition 5"
- People against the Prop 5 deception
- Los Angeles Times, "'No on Proposition 5' links liberal Martin Sheen with unlikely allies, August 27, 2008
- Mercury News, "Martin Sheen opposes drug measure on Calif. ballot," August 27, 2008 (dead link)
- Sacramento Bee; The Sacto 9-1-1 blog, "U.S. drug czar rips Proposition 5," October 21, 2008 (dead link)
- Associated Press, "5 California governors oppose drug initiative," October 30, 2008
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Nation's drug czar denounces Calif. ballot measure," October 21, 2008
- Sacramento Bee, "Our View: Judges believe Proposition 5's flaws are fatal," October 3, 2008
- San Francisco Bay Guardian, "Endorsements 2008: State ballot measures," October 8, 2008
- Los Angeles Times, "No on Proposition 9," September 26, 2008
- Pasadena Star News, "Dangerous Prop 5," September 2, 2008
- Fox & Hounds Daily, "California endorsements grid"
- Campaign expenditure details
- No on Prop 5 Campaign Files With State Supreme Court to Remove It From the Ballot, July 17, 2008 (dead link)
- Calif. justices asked to reject drug initiative (dead link)
- California Supreme Court rejects efforts to strike prop 5 from ballot.