Reviewing the 2008 November California propositions — Prop 5


Umbrella yes-vote site.

Umbrella no-vote site.


So far I’ve done my best to read and review the propositions in great detail, if only because, even when my decision was already pretty clear to me, I wanted to make sure I knew as much as I could about each one. Something that affects the state constitution, after all, can’t be treated lightly.

Then I reached Proposition 5. Yikes.

If you read the official analysis in full…I freely admit, you’re a better person than I. This is something so wide-ranging in potential scope that I think you can only do it in bursts, and my eyes keep glazing over a bit as I try to concentrate on it.

This is a pity, though, because the issue is an excellent one to concentrate on — namely, how we judge and grapple with drug convictions, as well as look to questions of rehabilitation. It’s one of those issues that I can remember thinking about for at least twenty years now without pretending it’s been something to the forefront of my mind much — it’s always seemed removed to me, whereas for many people, whether as victim or prisoner or friend or relative or more, it’s a deeply felt situation.

In ways, the argument for 5 is similar to the argument for 1 — an investment for the future, in the hopes of improvement and a better deal for everyone all around. This is very emotionally appealing to me, since while it pitches things on a very broad scope it has a resonance. At the same time, there appears to be enough room for individual discretion on the part of many authorities in this proposed new system that there can be a necessary flexibility instead of a hard-and-fast holding to one policy or another.

The key argument against 5 for me comes back to something that I’ve been talking about already, namely questions of finance. 5, I think rather happily, does not involve bond issues of any sort, but it does involve what appears to be a huge commitment of fixed budget funding on state and local levels. Right now, I think, just isn’t the historical moment for such a commitment on top of everything else going on. Ten years ago, perhaps — perhaps ten years in the future, who knows. Now, though?

In summary, a quandary. I think the importance of rehabilitation, of recognition that the idea of punishment is something that is rarely meant to be a full ‘life sentence’ in the broad sense — how many times has the ‘lock ’em up, throw away the key’ canard been invoked over the years? — cannot be understated, and I also think there needs to be at base a better sense of drug law in particular. I don’t know if Proposition 5 is fully the right solution, though it has aspects of interest. But I do think, with admitted regret, that it’s the wrong time — there may never be a right one, I realize. But there can be a better one.

A hesitant NO, in the hopes that something more practical may be suggested soon instead. Political Blogger Alliance


2 Responses to “Reviewing the 2008 November California propositions — Prop 5”

  1. jestine Says:

    when i was 16, i wrote a 32 pg paper for my government class discussing the importance of the decriminalisation of certain drug charges, in favor of various rehabilitation options. seven years later… i’m excited to vote for this one. in the future, i suppose the incarceration rate will only increase, making the financial gap even wider to consider putting this in motion at some point down the road. but i am* often overly optimistic. i wish it wasn’t all about the green.

  2. Ned Raggett Says:

    Thanks for that! Yeah, this is a hard one to work through, and your stance is perfectly logical. I admit, the news coming through just now of Schwarznegger thinking about the legislature coming back in for a special session due to budgetary problems is further making me think that while you’re right that it shouldn’t be all about the green, there may be no other way to frame it this time out.

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