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Former Gov. Jerry Brown Donates $1M to Defeat Prop. 20, Backed By Police

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One of the many state propositions on the ballot, Proposition 20 would roll back some of the criminal justice reforms California has passed in recent years.

Speaker 1: 00:00 The mail-in ballot turnout continues to be phenomenal this year. And this weekend in person voting begins at polling locations across San Diego. One of the many state propositions on the ballot proposition 20 would roll back. Some of the criminal justice reforms, California has passed in recent years. Key to this issue is the rhetoric used about crime over the years and how that rhetoric has changed. [inaudible] Kate Wolf has more in the 1990s, California led the nation in passing a spate of tough on crime laws. Here's a 1994 ad for Republican gubernatorial candidate, Pete Wilson, an ugly word, a devastating crime. The victim does life yet. The average rapist in California spends less than five years. One of the most harsh and recognizable laws of that era was 1990 fours, three strikes law backed by Wilson with bipartisan support. It put people in state prisons for decades for third offense, even if it was non-violent.

Speaker 2: 01:03 It used to be even in California, that an effective campaign was to talk about law and order that you really, really for it as a Republican or that you weren't against it as Democrat.

Speaker 1: 01:19 That's dr. Fernando, Garah a political science professor at Loyola Marymount university. As the state packed its prisons in spending ballooned. However, public sentiment slowly began to change. And after a Supreme court order to lower the prison population voters passed a series of reforms that softened some criminal penalties. Now law enforcement groups have put prop 20 on the ballot to roll back. Some of those reforms, it would increase penalties on some theft and fraud crimes and exclude thousands of people from early parole. Yes, on 20 consultant. Richard temple says people who've committed violent crimes. Shouldn't be eligible for early release, but in this moment of racial reckoning and amid calls for more oversight of police and prisons, temple is also quick to contend that the measure won't send people. The,

Speaker 2: 02:12 This initiative does not increase the prison population. Not one new inmate will go to prison.

Speaker 1: 02:18 Temples, technically right? Prop 20 would send more people to jail, not prison and keep some people in prison longer. But for a ballot measure, backed by prosecutors and police. It's a noticeable shift away from throw away. The key to we support rehabilitation. Temple says under the current system, people with drug and mental health problems are falling through the cracks.

Speaker 2: 02:42 Those people will get better treatment. How has this taken care of them by letting them over and over steal and not get treatment

Speaker 1: 02:49 Referring to a more tough love approach, get help or go to jail. But in analysis by the center on juvenile and criminal justice found that prop 20 undercut rehabilitation by redirecting money from those programs back to locking people up opponents of prop 20, say despite the softer rhetoric from the other side, this is just the same playbook with a different script. Lenore Anderson helped write some of the reforms that prop 20 is seeking to roll back.

Speaker 2: 03:19 Now is the time to go further with reform. But what prop 20 does is seeks to send us back. Prop 20 is an effort to return California to it's tough on crime mass incarceration past

Speaker 1: 03:35 Definitely it'll be up to the voters to decide whether California has become too lenient. But professor Garrett says if prop 20 passes, it will send an important message.

Speaker 2: 03:47 Clearly there's been tremendous momentum from the criminal justice proponent. This would indicate that that momentum has gone too far,

Speaker 1: 03:57 But if prop 20 fails, it could be that the reforms are here to stay. That was KQ EDS, Kate Wolf. You can locate the new in-person polling place in your area by checking the back of your sample ballot for the address, or you can click the how to vote button on our voter guide@kpbs.org.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.