Ex-governors urge court to block 'get out of jail free' proposition

Legal News Line Jul. 20, 2008, 12:22pm

Pete Wilson (R)

Gray Davis (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - While California's controversial Proposition 8 has drawn attention from across the country, a lesser known proposition - called the 'get out of jail free' card by its opponents -- is now headed to the California Supreme Court for consideration.

Opponents of Proposition 5, including former California Govs. Pete Wilson and Gray Davis, have asked the California Supreme Court to remove the proposal from the November.

Wilson, a Republican, and Davis, a Democrat, made their request the same week the Court refused a petition to remove Proposition 8, legislation that would block gay marriage, from the ballot.

Proposition 5, if approved in November, would shorten parole for drug dealers caught with up to $50,000 of methamphetamine from three years to six months.

On Thursday, 32 California district attorneys joined the two former governors in submitting a petition to the court, asserting Proposition 5 is unconstitutional and if approved would damage California's financially strapped correctional system.

"In addition to providing serious criminals with a 'get of jail free' opportunity," said a press release issued by the No on 5 Committee, "it removes the power of the governor to appoint parole board members."

If the court refuses to remove the proposal, opponents of Proposition 5 say they will mount an aggressive campaign to sway voters.

"Proposition 5 will take us backward and wreak havoc on our neighborhoods, families and schools," said Jerry Dyer, president of the California Police Chiefs Association.

Meanwhile, supporters of Proposition 5 say the legislation would keep non-violent drug offenders out of the prison system, thus saving money. But opponents argue those costs will shift from the state to counties.

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