Initiative and Referendum: Another Front.While it is justifiable that the majority of government relations' attention is focused on the executive and legislative branches, an increasing number of issues are being set before the public in the form of initiatives, referendums or state constitutional amendments. Citizens in all 50 states and the District of Columbia District of Columbia, federal district (2000 pop. 572,059, a 5.7% decrease in population since the 1990 census), 69 sq mi (179 sq km), on the east bank of the Potomac River, coextensive with the city of Washington, D.C. (the capital of the United States). have the ability to vote on some type of ballot measure. These include state constitutional amendments in all 50 states and some form of initiative or referendum in 27 states. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the National Conference of State Legislatures
The abbreviation NCSL redirects here. For the British educational institution see National College for School Leadership.
The National Conference of State Legislatures , voters in 42 states cast their ballots for 204 ballot measures. Many of these dealt with a variety of criminal justice-related issues.
It could be said that, at least in California, the public sentiment is that we as a country incarcerate in·car·cer·ate
tr.v. in·car·cer·at·ed, in·car·cer·at·ing, in·car·cer·ates
1. To put into jail.
2. To shut in; confine. too many nonviolent drug offenders. It will be interesting to see how this is implemented or if this idea catches on in other parts of the country. At the same time, this new requirement also will place additional pressures on treatment options available to offenders. This change in direction could eventually lead to a reallocation of resources The provision of logistic resources by the military forces of one nation from those deemed "made available" under the terms incorporated in appropriate NATO documents, to the military forces of another nation or nations as directed by the appropriate military authority. away from incarceration Confinement in a jail or prison; imprisonment.
Police officers and other law enforcement officers are authorized by federal, state, and local lawmakers to arrest and confine persons suspected of crimes. The judicial system is authorized to confine persons convicted of crimes. and toward treatment. What is interesting is that this never really became part of the debate on this high-profile issue in the nation's largest state.
In a continuation of a trend that began in 1998, states considered a variety of measures addressing drug policies. The most significant of these was a measure that passed in California to mandate treatment rather than incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders. Estimates are that this proposal could reduce the state's prison See State prison population by nearly 20,000, or 12 percent. The margin was 60 percent to 40 percent. A similar measure in Massachusetts was defeated after it was opposed by law enforcement officials.
Oregon and Utah approved changes to their asset forfeiture Asset forfeiture is a term used to describe the confiscation of assets, by the State, which are either (a) the proceeds of crime or (b) the instrumentalities of crime. Instrumentalities of crime are property that was used to facilitate crime, for example cars used to transport laws. Medical marijuana initiatives were passed in Colorado and Nevada. A broader legalization LEGALIZATION. The act of making lawful.
2. By legalization, is also understood the act by which a judge or competent officer authenticates a record, or other matter, in order that the same may be lawfully read in evidence. Vide Authentication. of marijuana was defeated in Alaska.
Gun control advocates scored big victories in Colorado and Oregon. The measures will require people purchasing guns at gun shows to be subjected to background checks. It is notable that both these states had been the sites of high-profile school shootings in recent years. With the congressional deadlock on gun issues, it can be expected that supporters of increased gun control will attempt to get such proposals on more state ballots.
Virginia voters approved a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish. Under the Virginia system, this was seen as a way to make it difficult for localities to pass gun control initiatives.
New Jersey voters passed an initiative to enhance enforcement, registration and public notice under Megan's Law Megan's Laws are named for Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old girl from New Jersey who was sexually assaulted and murdered in 1994 by a neighbor who, unknown to the victim's family, had been previously convicted for Sex Offenses against children. . This vote showed the continuing concern for the reintegration reintegration /re·in·te·gra·tion/ (-in-te-gra´shun)
1. biological integration after a state of disruption.
2. restoration of harmonious mental function after disintegration of the personality in mental illness. of sex offenders into the community.
Local Law Enforcement
Voters in Connecticut eliminated the office of sheriff and replaced it with a system of marshals who will be state rather than local officials. While the defeat was seen as significant, it appears to have had more to do with the structure of Connecticut's local government than the functions performed by the sheriffs in that state.
This article is not a comprehensive discussion of the criminal justice-related issues that appeared on November 2000 ballots. It merely highlights some of the higher-profile and more controversial measures that were considered.
Because of the emotion involved in and scope of these issues, it becomes difficult for the corrections profession to make its voice heard in this arena. All too often, the public gets caught up in what sounds good rather than what is good public policy. The amount of attention attracted by these proposals varies widely. With some exceptions, the average voter has little knowledge or interest in these non-candidate items, which appear on the ballot. That makes it virtually impossible to make arguments about the merits or problems surrounding a proposal. Instead, we just have to depend on the voters to make the best decisions with the information that is available to them.
What becomes interesting in these proposals is that they give us some insight into public opinion on criminal justice issues. We can expect our elected officials to reflect these opinions. Our job, then, becomes to educate those elected officials regarding our needs and the needs of a sound justice policy. Those needs all too often are quite contrary to popular public opinion.
James S. Turpin, CAE (1) (Computer-Aided Engineering) Software that analyzes designs which have been created in the computer or that have been created elsewhere and entered into the computer. , is ACA's legislative liaison.