California Proposition 5 (2008)

California Proposition 5 (2008)

California Proposition 5, or the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act (or NORA) is an initiated state statute that has been certified to appear as a ballot measure on the November 2008 ballot in California.

Provisions of the initiative

Proposition 5:

* Requires California to expand and increase funding and oversight for individualized treatment and rehabilitation programs for nonviolent drug offenders and parolees.
* Reduces criminal consequences of nonviolent drug offenses by mandating three-tiered probation with treatment and by providing for case dismissal and/or sealing of records after probation.
* Limits court’s authority to incarcerate offenders who violate probation or parole.
* Shortens parole for most drug offenses, including sales, and for nonviolent property crimes.
* Creates numerous divisions, boards, commissions, and reporting requirements regarding drug treatment and rehabilitation.
* Changes certain marijuana misdemeanors to infractions.

Fiscal impact analysis

According to the state of California, the initiative, if it passes, would lead to:

* Increased state costs that could exceed $1 billion annually primarily for expanding drug treatment and rehabilitation programs for offenders in state prisons, on parole, and in the community.
* Savings to the state that could exceed $1 billion annually due primarily to reduced prison and parole operating costs.
* Net savings on a one-time basis on capital outlay costs for prison facilities that could exceed $2.5 billion.
* Unknown net fiscal effect on expenditures for county operations and capital outlay.


The official proponent of the measure is Daniel Abrahamson.

Argument in favor of Prop 5

Notable arguments that have been made in favor of Prop 5 include:

* Prop 5 would reduce pressure on overcrowded and expensive prisons.
* Prop. 5 creates treatment options for young people with drug problems that do not exist under current law
* Voter-approved Proposition 36 provided treatment, not jail, for nonviolent drug users.
* One-third have completed treatment and became productive, tax-paying citizens.
* Since 2000, Prop. 36 has graduated 84,000 people and saved almost $2 billion."

Donors to the Prop 5 campaign

As of September 6, 2008, the five largest donors to the "Yes on 5" campaign are:

* George Soros, $1,400,000; [ [ "Sacramento Bee", "George Soros adds $400,000 to Yes on 5", September 3, 2008] ]
* Jacob Goldfield, $1,400,000.
* Bob Wilson, $700,000;
* John Sperling, $500,000;
* The Drug Policy Alliance Network, $400,000. [ [ "Details of $5,000+ donations"] ]

Path to Ballot

The petition drive conducted to qualify the measure for the fall ballot was conducted by Progressive Campaigns, Inc. at a cost of about $1.762 million. [ [ "Campaign expenditure details"] ]


* The People Against the Proposition 5 Deception is the official committee against the proposition. As of July 14, 2008, the group reports no financial activity. [ [ "People against the Prop 5 deception"] ]
* Actor Martin Sheen
* 32 District Attornies
* Former Governor Gray Davis
* Former Governor Pete Wilson

Arguments against Prop 5

Notable arguments that have been made against Prop 5 include:

* Proposition 5 has been called the "Drug Dealers’ Bill of Rights" because it shortens parole for methamphetamine dealers and other drug felons from 3 years to 6 months.
* This measure may provide a 'get-out-of-jail-free' card to many of those accused of other crimes by claiming drugs made them do it, letting them effectively escape criminal prosecution."
* Proposition 5 establishes two new bureaucracies with virtually no accountability, and which will cost hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.
* This a long law that changes many statutes that most voters will not even read in sufficient detail [ [ "Sacramento Bee", "Our View: Judges believe Proposition 5's flaws are fatal", October 3, 2008] ]
* Addicted defendants will be permitted five violations of probation or treatment failures based on drug use, and judges will be unable to meaningfully intervene until the sixth violation.

Lawsuit to remove from ballot

Opponents of Proposition 5, including thirty-two district attorneys and former California governors Pete Wilson and Gray Davis petitioned the California Supreme Court to issue a preemptory writ of mandate to remove Proposition 5 from the November ballot. The lawsuit alleges that Proposition 5 attempts to alter the constitution via statute, which is unconstitutional. [ [ "No on Prop 5 Campaign Files With State Supreme Court to Remove It From the Ballot", July 17, 2008] ] , [ [ "Calif. justices asked to reject drug initiative"] ]

The California Supreme Court declined to issue the preemptory writ. Generally, initiatives constitutionality are not reviewed until after a vote has passed and the initiative becomes law. [ [ "California Supreme Court rejects efforts to strike prop 5 from ballot. "] ]

Newspaper endorsements

Editorial boards opposed

* The Los Angeles Times [ [,0,7072255.story "Los Angeles Times", "No on Proposition 9", September 26, 2008] ]
*The Pasadena Star News [ [ "Pasadena Star News", "Dangerous Prop 5", September 2, 2008] ]

External Links

* [ Yes on Proposition 5]
* [ No on Proposition 5]

Basic information

* [ California Voter's Guide for Proposition 5]
* [ Official Text of the Initiative]
* [ Signatures pending validation]
* [ Prop 5 information page]
* [ California Voter Online guide to Proposition 5]
* [ Smart Voter Guide to Proposition 5]


Additional reading

* [ Peter Schrag: Props. 5 and 8 will make waves nationally]
* [ California Ballot Propositions May Start National Trend on Prisons and Rehabilitation of Drug Offenders and Same Sex Marriage]

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