The November 2020 ballot in California will include an initiative that would significantly weaken three recent criminal justice reform measures — AB 109, Prop. 47 and Prop. 57. Included in the ballot initiative is a major change to the definition of the term “violent felony,” which is used for sentencing and other purposes.
Specifically, the California Criminal Sentencing, Parole and DNA Collection Initiative would expand the total number of violent felonies from 27 to 51. In addition, the ballot initiative would expand the definition of violent felony to include any felony that requires lifetime registration.
“If this ballot initiative is passed, all registrants assigned to Tier 3 of the new Tiered Registry Law could be considered violent felons,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “That would include individuals convicted of non-contact offenses such as possession of unlawful images.”
The author of the ballot initiative is Assemblyman Jim Cooper, who is a former member of the Sacramento County Sheriffs Department for 30 years. The ballot initiative is supported by several law enforcement organizations, including the California Correctional Peace Officers Association Truth in American Government Fund, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the Los Angeles Police Protective League Issues PAC. Each of those organizations has contributed $200,000 to $2,000,000. The ballot initiative is also supported by the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
“We must oppose this ballot initiative because it could result in significant harm to current and future registrants,” stated Bellucci. “The best way to oppose this ballot initiative is to vote against it as well as to encourage members of our families and our friends to vote against it.”
According to government documents, the ACLU is formally opposed to this ballot initiative and has donated $200,000 to fight it. In addition, two individuals are formally opposed to the initiative and each of those individuals has donated $250,000.
Former Gov. Jerry Brown has publicly stated his opposition to the ballot initiative which he describes as the “latest scare tactic on criminal justice reform.” The Gov. Brown’s Ballot Measure Initiative group has donated $60,000 to oppose the ballot measure.