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Decision '94 / SPECIAL GUIDE TO CALIFORNIA'S ELECTIONS : Propositions : 189: No Bail Option for Sexual Assault : WHAT IT IS

October 30, 1994

All Proposition 189 would do is amend the California Constitution to make it clear that judges have the power to do what they already are authorized to do--jail accused rapists and molesters without bail in the weeks and months before a trial. With legislators eager to appear tough on crime, the vote to put the measure on the ballot passed the Assembly, 69 to 0. It sailed through the Senate, 30 to 0.

ARGUMENTS FOR

Proposition 189 is about protecting innocent, law-abiding citizens from the lowest and most vicious variety of criminals that prowl our streets--sexual predators. When the public talks about being concerned about violent crime, this is the kind of law they would like to see passed. Assemblywoman Dede Alpert (D-Coronado), a co-author of the measure, concedes that judges already have the power to lock up dangerous sexual offenders. But, she said, "We need to make it clearer to judges how significant these particular crimes are."

ARGUMENTS AGAINST

Proposition 189 "sounds good on paper," said Ted Brown, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Los Angeles County. "We don't want rapists walking the streets. But what (backers) say it says and what it says are two different things." The measure, he said, casts too wide a net: "This would affect people who potentially are not violent offenders, like someone accused of date rape who has no prior criminal record." Since the law already enables judges to deny bail to violent felons, the measure "looks like election year pandering."

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Every state legislator in California.

WHO OPPOSES IT

Libertarians; some criminal defense lawyers.

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