Why I vote “no” on (almost) all California ballot propositions, even if I agree with them
Michael Levinson

Regarding your close calls:

Prop 54: It may not be perfect. But, any law that shines light on what our legislators are actually doing is a good thing and it’s definitely something the legislators themselves won’t pass. Vote yes.

Prop 57: This one is, admittedly, horribly written. I’m a criminal defense attorney and I tied myself in knots trying to determine what it actually does, and then, I still had to consult with others to finally figure it out.

Prop 57 is really all about enhancements. Most people don’t realize that, in addition to sentencing, California laws allow or even mandate the tacking on of additional years of enhancements to sentences in certain circumstances. The number of circumstances permitting enhancements has grown exponentially in recent years. As a result, someone could be sentenced to 15 years, but get 50 years of enhancements tacked on. If they are 35 when the get sentenced, that means they won’t get out until they’re 100 — making it an effective life sentence.

Prop 57 makes people like this eligible for parole hearings once they’ve served their base sentence (in the above example, 15 years). It doesn’t mandate release on parole. The inmate will still have to convince the parole board that he will not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to the community if paroled. And, less than 50% of parole hearings result in a grant. But, this gives deserved inmates who have genuinely reformed themselves a chance to get out before they die.

Prop 58: This one would take us back to the bad old days when kids were being forced into classes conducted in Spanish simply because they had an Hispanic-sounding surname, even if their native language was English and they didn’t speak a lick of Spanish. Vote No.

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