California Proposition 6, Penalties for Gang-Related Crimes (2008)

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California Proposition 6, also known as the Safe Neighborhoods Act and The Runner Initiative, was on the November 4, 2008 ballot in California as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated.

Proposition 6, if it had been approved, would have made a number of changes to California's criminal justice laws, particularly with regard to gang-related crimes and drug crimes. It would have:

  • Set a specific requirement of spending levels for some existing criminal justice programs, and for some of the programs that Proposition 6 would have created.
  • Increased penalties for certain crimes. The increased penalties would have applied to crimes relating to "gang participation and recruitment, intimidation of individuals involved in court proceedings, possession and sale of methamphetamines, vehicle theft, removing or disabling a GPS device, and firearms possession."
  • Changed some state parole policies. The most significant change is that it would have reduced the average parolee caseload of parole agents from about 70 parolees per parole agent to 50 parolees per parole agent.
  • Required the state to develop two databases related to gang information for the use of law enforcement agencies.
  • Expanded the circumstances under which hearsay evidence is admissible in court, "especially in cases where someone has intimidated or otherwise tampered with a witness."
  • Made violation of court-ordered injunctions a new and separate crime punishable by fines, prison, or jail.
  • Allowed counties with overcrowded jails to operate temporary jail and treatment facilities to house offenders.
  • Prohibited a person charged with a violent or gang-related felony from being released on bail or his or her own recognizance pending trial if he or she is illegally in the United States.
  • Expanded the circumstances under which juveniles would be eligible for trial in an adult criminal court, rather than the juvenile court system, for certain gang-related offenses.

Election results

California Proposition 6
Defeatedd No8,559,64769.2%
Yes 3,824,372 30.8%

Turnout: 79.4% of registered

Final results from the California Secretary of State (dead link)'
2008 propositions
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February 5
Proposition 91Proposition 92
Proposition 93Proposition 94
Proposition 95Proposition 96
Proposition 97
June 3
Proposition 98Proposition 99
November 4
Proposition 1AProposition 2
Proposition 3Proposition 4
Proposition 5Proposition 6
Proposition 7Proposition 8
Proposition 9Proposition 10
Proposition 11Proposition 12
Local measures

Text of measure


The ballot title was:

Police and Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Penalties and Laws. Initiative Statute.


The official summary provided to describe Proposition 6 said:

  • Requires minimum of $965,000,000 each year to be allocated from state General Fund for police, sheriffs, district attorneys, adult probation, jails and juvenile probation facilities. Some of this funding will increase in following years according to California Consumer Price Index.
  • Makes approximately 30 revisions to California criminal law, many of which cover gang-related offenses. Revisions create multiple new crimes and additional penalties, some with the potential for new life sentences.
  • Increases penalties for violating a gang-related injunction and for felons carrying guns under certain conditions.

Fiscal impact

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

  • Net increase in state costs that are likely within a few years to exceed $500 million annually, primarily due to increasing state spending for various criminal justice programs to at least $965 million, as well as for increased costs for prison and parole operations. These costs would increase by tens of millions of dollars annually in subsequent years.
  • Potential one-time state capital outlay costs for prison facilities that could exceed $500 million due to increases in the prison population.



The name of the official campaign committee supporting Proposition 6 was the Committee to Take Back Our Neighborhoods.[1]

  • Mike Reynolds[2],
  • San Bernardino Fourth District Supervisor Gary Ovitt[3] and
  • California State Senator George Runner.[4][5][6]
  • The California State Sheriffs’ Association,
  • The California District Attorneys Association,
  • The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs

Arguments in favor

Notable arguments made in support of the measure included:

  • Creates tougher punishment for gang crimes, drive-by shootings, meth distribution and victim intimidation
  • Creates more effective and accountable intervention programs to stop young kids from joining gangs.
  • Helps victims who have been intimidated by gang criminals
  • It provides additional funds for victim-witness protection programs in our communities.
  • Prohibits bail for illegal aliens who are charged with violent or gang crimes.
  • Ensures additional funding for local police, sheriff, district attorneys and probation officers.[7]


$1,983,008 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Proposition 6.[8]

Donors of $50,000 or more were:

Donor Amount
Henry Nicholas $1,000,000
Larry Rasmussen $200,000
Taxpayers for George Runner and George Runner for Senate 2008 $89,000
Committee to Elect Gary C. Ovitt $50,000



The officially committee opposing Proposition 6 was known as No on Propositions 6 & 9, Communities for Safe Neighborhoods and Fiscal Responsibility.

  • California Democratic Party
  • The California Professional Firefighters,
  • The California Labor Federation,
  • Former Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks,
  • The California Teachers Association,
  • The California National Organization for Women,
  • The Los Angeles City Council,
  • The League of Women Voters,
  • California Church IMPACT
  • The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.[9]
  • The Libertarian Party of California
  • The Green Party of California

Arguments against

Notable arguments made in opposition to the measure included:

  • It diverts billions from California's schools, hospitals and childcare centers by funding failed prison and policing policies, deepening the state's ongoing budget crisis.[10].
  • It targets youth for adult incarceration by deeming any youth 14 years or older who is convicted of a "gang-related" felony must be tried as an adult.
  • It Targets poor people by requiring recipients of public housing subsidies to submit to annual criminal background checks and withdrawing the housing subsidies of people with recent criminal convictions.
  • It Targets illegal aliens by denying bail to those that are charged with violent or gang-related crimes and requires local sheriffs to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the arrests.
  • Individuals who are not affiliated with gangs are listed in gang databases and may be falsely prosecuted under this provision.[11].


$2,356,567 was contributed to the campaign committee that spoke out against both Proposition 6 and Proposition 9.[12]

Donors of $100,000 or more were:

Donor Amount
California Teachers Association $955,911
California State Council of Service Employees/SEIU $572,805
California Democratic Party $467,129
California Federation of Teachers $100,000

Editorial opinion

"No on 6"

  • The Los Angeles Times.[13]
  • Pasadena Star News.[14]
  • The New York Times, saying, "It recreates the failed criminal justice policies of the past."[15]

Path to the ballot

See also: California signature requirements

As an initiated state statute, 433,971 signatures were required to qualify Proposition 6 for the ballot.

The petition drive to place the measure on the ballot was conducted by National Petition Management, at a cost of $1.022 million.[16]

Supporters turned in over 750,000 signatures on April 25 to qualify the measure for the November 2008 ballot.[17][18]

See also: California ballot initiative petition signature costs

External links

Suggest a link


Additional reading: