Reviewing the 2008 November California propositions — Prop 9

Basic information about Proposition 9 — “CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. VICTIMS’ RIGHTS. PAROLE. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.”

Umbrella yes-vote site.

Umbrella no-vote site.

As the election draws nearer and as I, frankly, feel a bit more tired, I admit I’m not as inclined to give these last few propositions as good a going over as they deserve. Which they do deserve, don’t get me wrong — but there’s almost a tendency to fully drift into autopilot at this point, and I can’t imagine I’m not alone. I think a lot of people aren’t so much waiting to get to Election Day but the day *after* Election Day.

So that said, this reflection on Prop 9, and the three remaining propositions to follow, will be somewhat swift — in this case, Prop 9 tackles one of those endless issues, crime and punishment. Having already suggested no votes for both 5 and 6, I’m pretty much inclined to go that route 9 as well.

Part of the reason why, I admit, is somewhat perverse — namely, the identity of the man who sponsored it (as well as 6, I now realize, which is even more hilarious in retrospect). Former Broadcom head Henry Nicholas III is, as they put it, a character — which is a kind way of noting that a guy who has been arrested for various drug, fraud and sex charges seems like an unlikely person to be sponsoring a victims’ rights law. But hey, that’s life for you.

That said, his reasons are deeply felt — his sister was murdered by an ex-boyfriend of hers back in the early eighties, and whatever else he’s done himself, anyone who couldn’t think that he has reasons to feel outraged still after all these years has a heart of stone. Yet I tend to agree more with the people arguing against 9 as this sounding like gilding the lily, and like 6 relying on emotion overriding more practical considerations. It’s a rhetorical difference, I admit, but in reviewing the arguments and rebuttals on the official site for the proposition, the fact that the no forces took a very cool, level headed line against the ALL CAPS APPROACH was appreciated.

But rhetoric isn’t enough, of course. In the end, this strikes me, especially in the wake of problematic laws like the Three Strikes effort, as overreaction, a focus that is so driven one way only that it introduces more problems than it solves. And, once again, it places demands on a state budget at just the wrong time in its fiscal history.

A flat NO.

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