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October 29, 2008 > Letter to the Editor: No on Proposition 5

Letter to the Editor: No on Proposition 5

As the Executive Director of a domestic violence prevention and intervention agency I have real concerns about Proposition 5. Law enforcement professionals believe the passage of Proposition 5 (NORA) will increase crime and addiction levels resulting in a less safe community. The California Police Chiefs' Association, California Peace Officers' Association, California District Attorneys' Association, and Chief Probation Officers' of California oppose it. This opposition is understandable when you consider the following points:

¥ Proposition 5 could provide, in effect, a "get-out-of-jail-free" card to defendants charged with crimes e.g. domestic violence, child abuse, mortgage fraud, burglary and auto theft, letting them effectively escape criminal prosecution altogether by claiming drug addiction caused them to commit their crimes. The judge, although she or he may not understand the dynamics in a domestic violence relationship, has the discretion to send the defendant to diversion.

¥ If a violent offender is granted a hearing using "the drugs made me do it" defense, the burden of proof shifts to the prosecution to prove that the defendant should be held responsible for his or her crimes.

¥ Proposition 5 shortens parole for methamphetamine dealers and other drug felons from 3 years to just 6 months.

Focusing on the impact of Proposition 5 on victims of domestic violence and their families I would like you to consider these statistics. In the same seven-year period [2000-2006] when 4,588 U.S. soldiers [in combat] and police officers [on duty] were killed by hostiles or by accident, more than 8,000 women - nearly twice as many - were shot, stabbed, strangled, or beaten to death by the intimate males in their lives."

This excerpt from The War on Women: Elly Armour, Jane Hursham, and Criminal Domestic Violence in Canadian Homes (2006), by Brian VallŽe, gives us a bleak image of the tragic toll of domestic violence. We all have a sense of the terrible waste of young lives in the Iraq and Afghan wars, but we don't so easily see or track the numbers of women murdered in their own homes.

"In the United States, it's conservatively estimated that in addition to the 1,200 to 1,300 women killed each year by intimate partners, another 5.3 million, age 18 and older, are victims of non-lethal domestic abuse. Based on those numbers, the violence costs the country more than $5.8 billion annually - nearly $4.1 billion in direct medical and mental health care, and $1.8 billion in lost productivity and lost earnings due to homicide."

With these facts in mind, I cannot in good conscious, support this proposition.

Rodney D. Clark
Executive Director
Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments (SAVE)

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