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October 31, 2006 > No on Proposition 83

No on Proposition 83

We need a more practical solution

With all of the talk about Proposition 83 providing increased protection for our children and fellow citizens, we are missing the point of our whole judicial system. That is, to incarcerate those who are a danger to society and reeducate and reform individuals so that they can be useful, productive, and non-threatening citizens. When we do anything for a lifetime without significant justification, we are not only eliminating any chance that a one time "sexual predator" will ever be reintegrated into society but creating an environment where they are forced into associating with people with whom they feel comfortable and where they cannot get a job or education in order to support themselves.

Proposition 83 would cost taxpayers an estimated $500 million but would not increase public safety because it's most restrictive and expensive provisions apply to misdemeanor offenders and others convicted of minor, nonviolent offenses. Similar laws have been tried and have failed in other states. Let's separate the punishment for violent, dangerous offenders and the non violent and not dangerous offenders.

I have no objection, and in fact would encourage and support, the imprisonment of someone convicted of a violent sexually oriented crime for a very long time, or at least until it can be proven that they are no longer a danger to society. That said, there are many people who are convicted of misdemeanors and under proposition 83 would be required to register and wear a GPS tracking bracelet for the rest of their lives. In addition they could not live within 2000 feet of a school or park, and in many cases this would mean they could not return home in an urban setting. They would be forced into living in rural areas where there are few jobs, few chances for education or job training and where people would treat them as someone to be afraid of, no matter of what they were convicted.

In a recent discussion with a local police official, he admitted that if Proposition 83 passes there might be an unusual concentration of registered offenders in those areas where there are no parks and no schools; in outlying and rural areas. Good for the urban centers, bad for the other areas. Moreover, what of the residents of these rural areas? There are fewer police, houses are further apart, communications may be harder, and response time to emergencies are longer. Will these residents put up with an overpopulation of sexual offenders, violent or not, in their backyards?

I would strongly urge voters to vote NO on Proposition 83 and instead pressure their elected officials to write a law that makes legal, financial, and practical sense.

Arnie Becker
Hayward

 
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