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Voters in November 2016 approved Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal for changing the “determinate” sentencing law, which he signed in his first term in 1976. Saying prisoners have too few incentives to turn their lives around, he proposed to make it eas
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Capitol Alert

‘Meet your new neighbor’ cards paint extreme case of criminal release

By David Siders

dsiders@sacbee.com

August 19, 2016 11:19 AM

The campaign against Gov. Jerry Brown’s ballot measure to make certain nonviolent felons eligible for early release is distributing sportslike trading cards with photographs of prisoners under the headline, “Meet your new neighbor.”

One card, also promoted on the campaign’s website, features Andrew Stuart Luster, the Max Factor cosmetics heir convicted in 2003 in the rapes of three women.

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Meet your new neighbor: Andrew Stuart Luster, Convicted Rapist.

Andrew Stuart Luster. Arrested for rape in 2003, Andrew Stuart Luster fled to Mexico, was eventually captured and returned to California. Convictions: 20 counts of drug induced rape, 17 counts of raping an unconscious victim. Sentencing: 124 years in state prison (original). 50 years after judicial reduction.

Under PROP. 57, rapist Andrew Stuart Luster would be eligible for IMMEDIATE RELEASE from state prison … into your neighborhood.

Analysis

Because Proposition 57 does not define what constitutes a “nonviolent” crime, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office assumes the measure would apply to any felony that is not specifically defined in state law as “violent.”

Opponents of the measure are using the trading cards to point out that many “nonviolent” crimes are nevertheless heinous, including assault with a deadly weapon, soliciting murder, human trafficking and certain kinds of rape.

They are correct on that point.

But the trading cards paint an extreme case by suggesting that felons currently serving lengthy prison terms would walk free immediately if the initiative is passed.

According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, prisoners who would be affected by the measure currently serve about two years in prison before being considered for parole or released. If Proposition 57 passes, the LAO estimates those prisoners would serve about six months less in prison, on average, before being considered for parole or released.

In practice, the Brown administration has said it anticipates implementing regulations around Proposition 57 disqualifying inmates who must register as sex offenders. Regulations can change over time. But the administration’s current, court-ordered parole process for nonviolent, “second-strike” offenders excludes such inmates.

Furthermore, while Proposition 57 would make certain nonviolent felons eligible for parole consideration, it would not guarantee their release.

PoliGRAPH is The Bee’s political fact checker, rating campaign advertisements and candidate claims as True, Iffy or False.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders