Prop 20

a YES vote supports this initiative to add crimes to the list of violent felonies for which early parole is restricted; recategorize certain types of theft and fraud crimes as wobblers (chargeable as misdemeanors or felonies); and require DNA collection for certain misdemeanors.
a NO vote opposes this initiative to add crimes to the list of violent felonies for which early parole is restricted; recategorize certain types of theft and fraud crimes as wobblers (chargeable as misdemeanors or felonies); and require DNA collection for certain misdemeanors.

Official Arguments (click ▸ to expand)


"He slashed at me with a knife and tried to kill me," says Terra Newell, who survived a knife attack by the sociopath Dirty John. "It was brutal and terrifying—but in California, his attack wasn't a violent crime." Under California law, assault with a deadly weapon is classified a "nonviolent" offense—along with date rape, selling children for sex, and 19 other clearly violent crimes. All are "nonviolent" under the law. Proposition 20 fixes this. "Nonviolent" crimes in California include domestic violence, exploding a bomb, shooting into a house with the intent to kill or injure people, raping an unconscious person and beating a child so savagely it could result in coma or death. Sex traffickers typically beat, rape and drug their victims before selling them for sex. But in California, trafficking is a "nonviolent" offense. Even hate crimes are considered "nonviolent." As a result, thousands of offenders convicted of these 22 violent crimes, including sex offenders and child molesters, are eligible for early prison release, WITHOUT serving their full sentences, and WITHOUT their victims being warned. Proposition 20 PREVENTS the early release of violent offenders and sexual predators by making these 22 violent crimes "violent" under the law, and requires that victims be notified when their assailants are set free. Proposition 20's "full sentence" provision applies ONLY to violent inmates who pose a risk to public safety, regardless of race or ethnicity. It does NOT apply to drug offenders and petty criminals, and does NOT send more people to prison. "Claims that Proposition 20 will fill our prisons with thousands of new inmates are false," says Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys. "It doesn't send one new person to prison. It simply requires violent offenders and sexual predators to complete their full sentences." This protects victims and gives offenders longer access to counseling, anger management and other rehabilitation programs. "Proposition 20 protects children against physical abuse and sexual exploitation," says Klaas Kids Foundation founder Marc Klaas. "Trafficking children will finally be recognized as the violent crime it is." Proposition 20 provides additional protection against violent crime by allowing DNA collection from persons convicted of theft or drug offenses, which multiple studies show helps solve more serious and violent crimes like rape, robbery and murder. California reduced penalties for theft in 2014. Since then, major theft has increased 25%, costing grocers, small business owners, retailers, homeowners and consumers billions of dollars. Shoplifting has become so common it’s seldom reported. Proposition 20 strengthens sanctions against serial theft by habitual criminals—to help stop car break-ins, shoplifting, home burglaries and other major theft. California's drug addiction crisis is fueling much of this theft. By strengthening sanctions against theft, Proposition 20 helps get addicts (who are 75% of California's homeless population) off the streets and into the substance abuse and mental health programs they desperately need. Voting "YES" on Proposition 20 is a vote against hate and violence. It's a vote for children, victims and survivors. It's a vote for equal justice and a safer California. PATRICIA WENSKUNAS, Founder Crime Survivors, Inc. NINA SALARNO BESSELMAN, President Crime Victims United of California CHRISTINE WARD, Director Crime Victims Alliance


STOP THE PRISON SPENDING SCAM—VOTE NO ON PROP. 20! California already has lengthy sentences and strict punishment for serious and violent crime. Backers of Prop. 20 are trying to scare you into rolling back effective criminal justice reforms you just passed, to spend tens of millions of your taxpayer dollars on prisons. Don't be fooled. Every year, thousands are convicted of felonies with long sentences. The problem isn’t sentencing, it's what happens in prison to prepare people for release. Prop 20 could slash mental health treatment and rehabilitation programs—proven strategies to reduce repeat crime. That will make us all less safe. Crime victims, law enforcement leaders as well as budget and rehabilitation experts oppose Prop. 20 because it wastes tens of millions on prisons while cutting rehabilitation programs and support for crime victims. Prop. 20 is a prison spending scam that takes us backwards. PROP. 20 WASTES YOUR MONEY ON PRISONS. Prop. 20 will spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars—your money—on prisons. California is facing massive cuts to schools, health care, and other critical services. Spending tens of millions more on prisons right now is a wasteful scam. PROP. 20 IGNORES HOMELESSNESS, SCHOOLS, MENTAL HEALTH, AND HOUSING. We must always do more to address crime, but Prop. 20 will make things worse. Prop. 20 wastes tens of millions of your taxpayer dollars on prisons that would be better spent on schools, homelessness, mental health treatment, and affordable housing. PROP. 20 IS EXTREME. Prop 20 means that theft over $250 could be charged as a felony. That's extreme, out of line with other states, and means more teenagers and Black, Latino and low income people could be locked up for years for low-level, non-violent crimes. PROP 20 CUTS THE USE OF REHABILITATION—MAKING US LESS SAFE. Rehabilitation is a proven strategy to reduce repeat crime, so people become law-abiding, productive, taxpaying citizens. Prop 20 could cut rehabilitation—meaning fewer people would be ready to re-enter society when they are released, which would harm public safety. PROP. 20 REDUCES NECESSARY SUPPORT FOR CRIME VICTIMS. While overspending on prisons, Prop. 20 will slash financial support available to help victims of crime recover from trauma. PROP. 20 TAKES US BACKWARDS. California has made progress, carefully enacting modest reforms to reduce wasteful prison spending, and expand rehabilitation and other alternatives that have proven to cost-effectively reduce and prevent crime. People are demanding more changes to fix unjust policies that disproportionately harm poor people and people of color. Prop. 20 would repeal the progress we've made and take us backwards toward the failed, wasteful, and unjust policies of the past. EXPERTS ON CRIME, SPENDING, AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE AGREE. Prop. 20 will NOT make our communities safer. Prop. 20 WILL waste tens of millions of YOUR taxpayer dollars on prisons—causing CUTS to critical services people need. STOP the Prison Spending Scam. VOTE NO on Prop. 20! NoProp20.vote TINISCH HOLLINS, California Director Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice WILLIAM LANDSDOWNE, Police Chief (ret.) City of San Diego MICHAEL COHEN, Director of Finance (fmr.) State of California

🚫 San Francisco Chronicle

"Various studies have shown these dramatic drops in incarceration have not contributed to a significant increase in crime, which continues to stabilize at 1960s levels. It’s instructive that one of the big early funders of Proposition 20 was the prison guards, with boosts from other law enforcement unions. Voters who were fed up with the waste of money and waste of lives — and racial disparities — rejected that retrograde mindset with the passages of Props. 47 and 57. Vote no on Prop. 20."

✅ The San Diego Union-Tribune

🚫 American Civil Liberties Union SoCal

"Vote to protect criminal justice reforms.

Prop 20 will dramatically increase the number of people incarcerated in our prisons and jails by restricting parole release and enacting one of the nation’s strictest laws for theft. Vote NO on Prop 20 to stop the police unions from ratcheting up the criminalization and oppression of Black and brown communities in California."

🚫 Los Angeles Times

"Proposition 20 is built on a package of falsehoods about critical reforms that California lawmakers and voters wisely adopted over the last nine years to curb some of the most gratuitous excesses of the state’s criminal justice system. The measure deserves a resounding 'no.' This state is leading the nation away from decades of foolish and wasteful policies that prevent even low-level offenders from correcting their mistakes and getting on with productive and law-abiding lives. This is no time to reverse course."

🚫 The Mercury News

🚫 Orange County Register

"Fundamentally, however, Prop. 20 itself is the wrong vehicle for raising and implementing the policy changes it promotes. At a time when Californians continue to be supportive of scaling back mass incarceration, Prop. 20 offers only the preferences of police and prison guard unions. Complex issues such as the matters at hand demand a more deliberative and thoughtful approach than Prop. 20 provides. Voters should vote “no” on Prop. 20."

🚫 The Desert Sun

"As was true in 2018, this measure would only make California’s real housing problem — the dearth of affordable housing development — more difficult. It will only add the uncertainty of local rent control boards to California’s already Byzantine and costly housing development process."

🚫 California Democratic Party

"Wastes tens of millions on prisons causing cuts to rehabilitation and schools. Stop the Prison Spending Scam!"

✅ Republican Party

"Strengthens Penalties for Violent Crimes

Prop 20 strengthens criminal penalties, ensuring that the most serious offenders are brought to justice -- reversing recent statewide policies that allow criminals to get off easy."