2018 Public Safety Ballot Initiatives Cleared to Gather Signatures

By Shaun Rundle, Deputy Director.

Leading into November’s General Election, several public safety ballot measures have received title and summary from the CA Attorney General. This first step clears the way for proposed measures to start gathering the required signatures needed to be placed on the ballot. While several proposals concerning parole and three-strikes are not favorable to law enforcement, some proposals do exist that intend to reverse the harmful criminal justice trends of the last few years.

Public safety initiatives currently collecting signatures include:

Sanctuary State Law Veto Referendum      

The law limits, subject to considerations to ensure public safety, when state/local law-enforcement agencies may use resources or personnel to assist federal agencies in specified immigration enforcement activities.

Parole Consideration for Elderly Prison Inmates Initiative Statute

Would establish an Elderly Parole Program (EPP), administered by the Board of Parole Hearings. The EPP would consider prisoners for parole who meet the following criteria: (a) 80 years of age or older; and (b) served 10 years of continued incarceration on his or her current sentence. The board would also consider whether age, time served, or physical condition of an elderly prisoner reduced his or her risk of future violence. Not available for prisoners sentenced to death or LWOP.

Youth Offender Parole Hearing Initiative 

Individuals who received an enhanced sentence for a second strike they committed before age 23 would receive earlier parole hearings and potential release on parole during their 15th, 20th, or 25th year in prison, depending on their original sentence. Does not apply to those who were convicted of a third strike or certain sex offenses, or who were sentenced to life in prison without parole, or who committed certain additional crimes after age 23. Establishes deadlines for parole hearings.

Criminal Prosecution of Law Enforcement Officers Initiative    

Requires that law-enforcement officers who are prosecuted for crimes involving use of lethal or near-lethal force be held to a reasonable-person standard equal to or higher than that required for ordinary citizens to prevail on self-defense claims. Requires that criminal trials of law-enforcement officers be by jury for charges related to abuse of power or authority, unlawful or excessive force under color of law, or violent felonies.

Right to Vote of Convicted Felons Initiative         

Would allow convicted felons who are imprisoned or on parole to vote.

Violent Crime Definition, DNA Collection, and Parole Initiative

Imposes restrictions on parole program for non-violent offenders who have completed the full term for their primary offense. Expands list of offenses that disqualify an inmate from this parole program. Changes standards and requirements governing parole decisions under this program. Authorizes felony charges for specified theft crimes currently chargeable only as misdemeanors, including some theft crimes where the value is between $250 and $950. Requires persons convicted of specified misdemeanors to submit to collection of DNA samples for state database.