New York Times: ” … Proposition 47, as it is called, would redefine thefts, forgery and other property crimes involving less than $950, and possession for personal use of drugs including heroin and cocaine, as misdemeanors — punishable by at most one year in a county jail, and often by probation and counseling. The changes would apply retroactively, lightening the penalties for thousands already in prison or jails. Not only would many offenders avoid the crippling mark of a felony record, but the expected savings to the state government of up to a few hundred million dollars per year would be earmarked for mental health and substance abuse treatment, for counseling of potential school dropouts and for victim services, in hopes of breaking the cycle of crime. (Counties would also save several hundred million dollars annually, according the state legislative analyst.)…” (New York Times. California Voters to Decide on Sending Fewer Criminals to Prison. By ERIK ECKHOLMOCT. 5, 2014)

See also

I’m voting “Yes” on Prop 47 this coming November 2014 …

Not so very long ago (November 2012) there was a hopeful confidence that the California death penalty would finally be eliminated by “California Voters” and replaced with life in prison without the possibility of parole (another kind of death penalty). Proposition 34, titled by election officials as “Death Penalty. Initiative Statute”, was on the November 6, 2012 ballot in California as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated. Lets hope that we’ve continued to evolve as a species since that November …

But is it our “evolving standards of decency” or perhaps just plain old economic insecurity that now suggests 3 strikes, and other inhumane sentencing schemes, will finally be struck from the Laws of California?

I don’t particularly care about the “California Voter” motivation at this point, so long as these cruel, unusual, draconian and absurd 3 strikes sentences are stopped. And the New York Times suggests that such may transpire this November 2014 by Prop 47

New York Times – California Voters to Decide on Sending Fewer Criminals to Prison

“Twenty years ago, amid a national panic over crime, California voters adopted the country’s most stringent three-strikes law, sentencing repeat felons to 25 years to life, even if the third offense was a minor theft.

The law epitomized the tough-on-crime policies that produced overflowing prisons and soaring costs.

Now California voters appear poised to scale back the heavy reliance on incarceration they once embraced, with a measure that would transform several lower-level, nonviolent felonies into misdemeanors punishable by brief jail stays, if that, rather than time in a state penitentiary. The referendum on Nov. 4 is part of a national reappraisal of mass incarceration…”

Explaining how hip hop works to nine people aged 54 to 81 isn’t exactly an enviable assignment, but University of Richmond’s Erik Nielson and UC- Irvine’s Charis Kubrin appear up to the task... The duo have filed an amicus brief in Elonis v. United States, a Supreme Court centering on, as Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick puts it, “the speaker’s intent or the listener’s response … determine if there has been a ‘true threat’ of violence” in cases about criminal threats.” ” (Vox, Oct 1, 2014 – “Here’s how two hip hop experts explained how rap works to Antonin Scalia“)


And here’s a few passages from that AMICI CURIAE BRIEF sampled, as they say …

at p. 17, sub III, “Fear of Rap” – “Perhaps the most illustrative example is found in the response to N.W.A.’s 1988 protest song “Fuck tha Police,” which fiercely criticized discriminatory police practices in Los Angeles. See N.W.A., Fuck tha Police, on STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (Ruthless Records 1988).

at p. 18, sub III, “Fear of Rap” – “Although saying “Fuck tha Police” may be offensive, the Court has recognized the importance of protecting dissenting political speech, including safeguarding a very similar phrase, “Fuck the Draft.” Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).


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