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Proposition 36: Voters Overwhelmingly Ease Three Strikes Law

Publication Date: 
November 07, 2012
San Jose Mercury News
Tracey Kaplan

Professor David Mills is quoted by Tracey Kaplan of the San Jose Mercury News on the November 6th passage of Prop. 36 and how he hopes the victory "inspires others to advocate for more sane and humane criminal justice policies."

"Eighteen years after Californians overwhelmingly approved the country's toughest Three Strikes law, they did an about-face Tuesday, easing the habitual-offender statute in a vote likely to influence criminal justice policies nationwide.

"Tonight's vote on Proposition 36 sends a powerful message to policymakers in California and across the country that taxpayers are ready for a new direction in criminal justice,'' said Adam Gelb, director of the Pew Center on the States' Public Safety Performance Project. "States that have already made some changes to their sentencing laws may be inspired to take a second look, and states that haven't made significant changes yet may start.


"The historic passage of Prop. 36 overturns the long-held conventional wisdom that it's impossible to fix our most extreme and unjust crime laws," said David Mills, a Stanford law school professor who helped draft the measure with fellow professor Michael Romano. "My most sincere hope is that this victory serves as a turning point that inspires others to advocate for more sane and humane criminal justice policies."


Proposition 36 backers mounted a two-pronged campaign, arguing the current law is unfair and a waste of taxpayer dollars. The funding came primarily from liberal billionaire George Soros and Stanford professor Mills, who is also an investor. But the initiative won key support from Right on Crime, a conservative criminal justice reform movement whose signatories include anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich.