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LAist Guide to the Elections: Proposition 6

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What is Proposition 6? Prop 6, also known as the Runner Initiative or the Safe Neighborhoods Act, is a move to increase funding for police and prisons and toughen penalties on "gang-related" and drug crime . It has been introduced by George Runner (Republican state senator) and his wife Sharon Runner (Republican state assemblywoman).

The proposition would deem any youth 14 years or older who is convicted of a gang-related felony fit to be tried in an adult court. It would mandate annual criminal background checks of any recipients of public housing subsidies. Prop 6 would also fundamentally change evidence rules to allow the use of some "hearsay" statements as evidence when witnesses are not available. It would increase penalties for gang-related crimes, using or selling methamphetamines, and would eliminate bail for those convicted who are undocumented. The funding for these tough on crime measures would come from money reallocated from K-12 education, higher education, health and human services, transportation and housing, and environmental protection.

What do opponents think? Opponents feel strongly that this measure would cost taxpayers immense amounts of money, build more prisons, imprison many more people, and continue an unsuccessful war on crime. They are wary of the proposition's potential to create new life sentences. Prop 6 could sentence more youth to long stays in prison without focusing on the methods that truly work to reduce crime. The measure would spend millions on building more prisons and take money directly out of vital social services (opponents refer to the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst's office report (pdf), revealing more than $500 million in new prison expenditures, and more than $500 in other costs each year, increasing yearly), funds that would come directly from existing education and social service programs in California. And individuals who are not affiliated with gangs could end up in gang databases and be falsely prosecuted. Lastly, introducing hearsay statements into evidence would have negative ramifications for justice in California.

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The Labor/Community Strategy Center recently produced a video opposing Prop 6...