Prop. 5 Falls to Prison Guards

Press Release November 4, 2008
Media Contact

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli at (213) 291-4190 or Dave Fratello at (310) 386-2952

Proposition 5, the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act, failed to capture a majority of votes on Election Day, bringing to an end the most ambitious prison and sentencing reform in US history. Prop. 5 proponents blamed California’s prison guards for funding deceptive advertising and said the No on 5 campaign misled voters about the measure.

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy campaign manager for Yes on 5, said, “Today we saw special interests overpower the public interest. California’s prison guards poured millions of dollars into stopping Prop. 5 and securing this victory for the poison politics of crime.”

The prison guards union, formally the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), contributed nearly $2 million to oppose Prop. 5 — nearly 75% of the advertising budget aimed at defeating the measure.

Dooley-Sammuli continued, “The prosecutors and prison guards who led the campaign against Prop. 5 got their way tonight — but they’ve really lost. The next step for our prisons will probably be a federal takeover. Prop. 5 was Californians’ last, best chance to avoid a takeover and make our own choices about how to address prison overcrowding. Now federal judges are likely to impose solutions that no one will be happy about.”

Opponents never acknowledged the cost savings projected for Prop. 5 by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst — $1 billion per year in prison operations costs, and $2.5 billion in capital savings in reduced prison construction, the Yes on 5 campaign said.

Dooley-Sammuli said, “Our opponents hid the true cost of defeating Prop. 5 — billions of dollars in prison construction and operating costs. In the next few years, as our prison budget grows from $10 billion per year to $15 billion or more, we will all look back at Prop. 5 and wonder why we did not put a cap on prison costs when we had a chance.”

Dooley-Sammuli added, “Although Prop. 5 lost today, this historic effort was not in vain. Prop. 5 presented a vision for a future in which we do more for young people with drug problems, and improve the way we provide court-supervised treatment in California. There is plenty to build on going forward.”

Prop. 5 was endorsed the League of Women Voters of California, Children’s Defense Fund – California, the California Nurses Association, California Federation of Teachers, the California Society of Addiction Medicine, the California State Conference of the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza, among many others.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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