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California backs victims rights measure, Oregon approves sentencing reforms

[JURIST] Crime victims gained a higher profile in California’s criminal justice system on Tuesday with voter approval of Proposition 9 [text, PDF], also known as the Victims’ Rights Protection Act of 2008. The only winner among three criminal justice initiatives, Proposition 9, championed by Friends of Marsy's Law [advocacy website], places into the California state constitution 17 rights for victims, their families and their representatives. Written by crime victims, the proposition creates a constitutional Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights, streamlines the parole system, and prevents release of dangerous inmates solely to alleviate prison overcrowding. With all polls reporting, the final results for the Proposition were:

Yes - 53.5% - 5,089,419
No - 46.5% - 4,427,094

By 59.9 percent to 40.1 percent [official results], California voters rejected Proposition 5 [text, PDF], a measure that would have diverted an increasing number of drug addicts and non-violent offenders from overcrowded prisons to rehabilitation programs. Proposition 6 [text, PDF], an initiative that would have toughened penalties for gang and gun crimes, failed 69 percent to 31 percent. The Los Angeles Times has more.

In Oregon, Measure 57 [text, PDF] prevailed over Measure 61 [text, PDF] in Tuesday's election between dueling proposals to crack down on convicted drug dealers and property crime offenders with tougher sentences. Measure 61 sought to extend mandatory minimum prison sentences to first-time identity thieves, burglars and drug dealers while punishing repeat offenders with tougher sentences. Measure 57, an alternative measure sponsored by the state legislature and the Better Way to Fight Crime Committee [advocacy website], proposed to increase prison terms for repeat offenders but also required more comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment for such inmates. The Oregon legislature included a provision on the election ballot stating that the measure capturing the most votes would prevail. Former Oregon state legislator Kevin Mannix, the sponsor of Measure 61, has said that if both measures pass he will go to the courts seeking to “blend” them together. As of Thursday, Measure 57 is ahead by a decisive 61 percent to 39 percent; Measure 61 also appears to be passing by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin. The Eugene Register-Guard has more.

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