Most people would say beating up your spouse or abusing your children or killing somebody when driving stoned out of your mind are violent acts.
But under Section 667.5 of the California Penal Code they are lumped under a lot of serious crimes against people and property as non-violent and that's the provision Prop. 5 on the Nov. 4 ballot relies on to define who is eligible for rehabilitation rather than incarceration.
Critics see it as a "get-out-out-jail" free card for gangsters, drug dealers and hardened criminals who will get down on their knees and swear they're just addicts who need a helping hand.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, still California's most popular politician, condemned Prop. 5 on Monday, saying it undermines law enforcement efforts to control drug trafficking and would let the wrong people off with a slap on the wrist.
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"Not only would Prop 5 reduce accountability, it could allow gang-members and other criminals accused of identity theft, domestic violence, child abuse, car theft, killing someone while driving under the influence and a host of other serious crimes to effectively escape prosecution," Feinstein said in a statement.
"Proposition 5 should be known as the 'drug dealers bill of rights.' Proposition 5 is a dangerous initiative that would cause far too much harm to our families, schools and communities."
Prop. 5, backed heavily by billionaire George Soros, is an extension of Prop. 36 approved in 2000. It provided treatment for people with relatively minor drug offenses. Studies of how it has worked showed the state reduced prison costs and arrest rates fell among those who completed treatment but that a third of those in the program never completed treatment and had a high rate of continued law-breaking.