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State of California November 2, 2010 Election
Smart Voter


By Peter Allen

Candidate for Attorney General

This information is provided by the candidate
We need a new approach to fighting crime in California. We are spending too much money and locking up too many of our citizens. If you want to eliminate wasteful and inefficient spending, this is the place to start. Almost every bill that looks tough on crime passes the legislature, no matter how ineffective or expensive it is. The appearance of being tough on crime is more important than truly fighting crime in the most cost effective manner. We must change that - we do not have extra money to waste on ineffective programs. There are a few changes that can make a big difference.

Death Penalty

The death penalty process in California is broken, and the costs of California's death penalty are too high. The costs are too high for taxpayers, for crime victims and their families, for the court system, for the convicted criminal, and ultimately for all Californians.

The death penalty has become an absurdity. A criminal has already been convicted and is locked up in prison, yet we spend 20 or even 30 years more on the case, continuing to argue about whether we should kill him. Stop already! Move on, go after the violent criminals who are still out there.

As these cases drag on for decades, the costs of the lawyers on both sides are being paid by California's taxpayers. Victims and their families keep being reminded of their trauma as the cases drag through the already clogged court system. And what is the product of all this time, money, energy and pain? The state gets to kill one of its citizens. Or maybe not. The whole process is a pointless waste. The costs are far too high and the benefits far too low.

The solution is to end imposition of the death penalty. Life in prison without possiblity of parole would become the maximum sentence imposed in California. With this one change, the appeals process could be cut to a fraction of its current duration, the state would save millions of dollars, our most capable and experienced prosecutors would be freed up to go after more violent criminals, court backlogs would be reduced, crime victims and their families could try to move on with their lives, and the state would no longer be in the business of killing.

Eliminate the death penalty. California cannot afford it.

War on Drugs

Early in the twentieth century, the United States tried to outlaw alcohol, under Prohibition. It was a dismal failure. People still drank alcohol, and Prohibition gave rise to organized crime in America by giving gangsters a new source of illegal income. Eventually, Prohibition was repealed.

So we tried it again, with our current prohibition on drugs. And again, it has been a dismal failure. We have not eliminated drug use, and we have provided huge (and tax-free) incomes to a wide range of violent gangs.

The war on drugs has resulted in huge numbers of our population being put in prison, with taxpayers paying for their room and board and medical care. These prisoners are taken out of the workforce, rendered largely unemployable after their release, and are exposed to the influence of violent criminals.

Legalization of currently illegal drugs, particularly marijuana, with appropriate regulation and taxation, would solve a number of problems. First, by reducing the number of people in prison for drug offenses, California would save substantial taxpayer money. Second, by moving the drug trade out of the black market and into the mainstream, the money would flow to legitimate businesses, not to drug gangs. Third, if drugs were legal, their use could be regulated, including content, purity, and labelling requirements, making them safer. And fourth, the legal sale of drugs could be taxed, resulting in a significant new source of revenue to California.

Legalization will be complicated and difficult, but the benefits will be worth it. The costs of our current drug policy are too high. End the war on drugs. California cannot afford it.

Violent Crime

As the chief prosecutor for the State of California, going after violent crime must be the first priority of the Attorney General. We need to create a culture in which violence is simply not acceptable, where violent criminals are punished not just by the state and the criminal justice system, but by everyone. The violent criminal should have no safe haven. There should not be any communities in which violent crime is somehow okay.

The police have a difficult and important job, and are a key element in fighting violent crime. While they must be held to high standards of conduct, they also need our support and cooperation to do their job effectively. Broad threats to cut the pay and benefits of police officers are not helpful. If we want them to put their lives on the line for us, we cannot begrudge them reasonable pay and benefits.

We need to focus our resources on violent crime - preventing it, solving it, and putting and keeping violent criminals behind bars.

Fraud, Foreclosure, White Collar Crime

As ground zero for the foreclosure crisis, California should aggresively go after the bad actors who knowingly misled unsophisticated first-time homebuyers and investors. The cost to the California economy has been huge, and California needs to send the message that fraud and deceit are not tolerated here.

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