Thomas D. Elias: Would Prop. 20 help against wildfires, crime? | Columnists | #predators | #childpredators | #kids

Its stated aim is to “prevent early release of violent felons.” It would do this by reclassifying some crimes now officially and strangely considered non-violent, despite their inherently violent nature.

Says an official state summary, “A yes vote…means people who commit…theft-related crimes could receive increased penalties.” It would also prevent convicted child molesters, sexual predators and violent criminals from winning early prison releases.

Passing this would indicate a new, less crime-tolerant attitude in California. This would require a shift of at least 10 percent of the electorate away from supporting the earlier prison-emptying measures.

At the same time, it could provide thousands of additional potential convict firefighters, who usually see their sentences reduced in exchange for very risky service on the fire lines.

Opponents call this “a prison spending scam,” charging the yes side wants to “scare voters into spending tens of millions on prisons, which could force draconian cuts to rehabilitation, schools, mental health care and (increase) homelessness.”

No one has yet established a direct connection, but homelessness proliferated in California simultaneously with the advent of the prison emptying measures.

All this is up for argument right now, but there is no doubt that well over 1 million acres of wild land and hundreds of homes burned in the first two months of the official fire season.

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