Continuing the theme of matching support and opposition, I’m supporting Proposition 12 and opposing Proposition 9. Prop 12 authorizes $900 million in new Cal-Vet bonds. Cal-Vet is a program that provides home and farm loans to California veterans; the program has been very successful, hasn’t (to date) lost money, and has helped people who served the country. What’s not to like? It has the added benefit of injecting capital into the housing markets at a time when that could be a useful thing. Here’s the Contra Costa Times:
While the state is legally responsible for paying back the bond money, it has never had to use taxpayer money, even during the Great Depression of the 1930s, to cover the cost of a defaulted loan. J.P. Tremblay, deputy secretary for the California Department of Veterans Affairs, said, “The state has never had to come in and bail out this fund.”
Proposition 9 proposes to change the criminal laws to – among other things – give the victims of crimes a say in sentencing, parole hearings and other parts of the criminal justice process.
I’m all about retributive justice, but this goes way too far for me. The goal is to move justice away from personal vengeance and hand the rights over to the impersonal state. As long as the state does a decent job – and I think our justice system does a decent, not great, job (we’re not the UK, where resisting burglars in a crime), I can’t support these kinds of changes.
Here is some of the language this would add to the codes – the parts I particularly object to are in bold:
(b) In order to preserve and protect a victimâ€™s rights to justice and due process, a victim shall be entitled to the following rights:
(1) To be treated with fairness and respect for his or her privacy and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse, throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process.
(2) To be reasonably protected from the defendant and persons acting on behalf of the defendant.
(3) To have the safety of the victim and the victimâ€™s family considered in fixing the amount of bail and release conditions for the defendant.
(4) To prevent the disclosure of confidential information or records to the defendant, the defendantâ€™s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, which could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victimâ€™s family or which disclose confidential communications made in the course of medical or counseling treatment, or which are otherwise privileged or confidential by law.
(5) To refuse an interview, deposition, or discovery request by the defendant, the defendantâ€™s attorney, or any other person acting on behalf of the defendant, and to set reasonable conditions on the conduct of any such interview to which the victim consents.
(6) To reasonable notice of and to reasonably confer with the prosecuting agency, upon request, regarding, the arrest of the defendant if known by the prosecutor, the charges filed, the determination whether to extradite the defendant, and, upon request, to be notified of and informed before any pretrial disposition of the case.
(7) To reasonable notice of all public proceedings, including delinquency proceedings, upon request, at which the defendant and the prosecutor are entitled to be present and of all parole or other post-conviction release proceedings, and to be present at all such proceedings.
(8) To be heard, upon request, at any proceeding, including any delinquency proceeding, involving a post-arrest release decision, plea, sentencing, postconviction release decision, or any proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue.
(9) To a speedy trial and a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any related post-judgment proceedings.
(10) To provide information to a probation department official conducting a pre-sentence investigation concerning the impact of the offense on the victim and the victimâ€™s family and any sentencing recommendations before the sentencing of the defendant.
(11) To receive, upon request, the pre-sentence report when available to the defendant, except for those portions made confidential by law.
(12) To be informed, upon request, of the conviction, sentence, place and time of incarceration, or other disposition of the defendant, the scheduled release date of the defendant, and the release of or the escape by the defendant from custody.
So Yes on 12, and No on 9.