Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Stanford law professor David Mills, Romano’s boss, came up with the idea of trying another ballot measure based on Cooley’s proposal for reform and with the district attorney’s endorsement. Romano and his students co-wrote the initiative with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Cooley’s office. Mills became the chief funder, donating $1 million to spearhead the cause. And Romano’s Stanford students indefatigably collected signatures to get the measure on the ballot.
The Proposition 36 team argued that the state was wasting $100 million a year locking up petty criminals. In a state with a perpetual budget crisis, that would seem like a strong card to play. But a Los Angles Times poll in September suggested otherwise: Support for the measure increased only slightly when the survey question about curtailing three strikes included the cost savings. Maybe what mattered most was fairness or the lack thereof, illustrated by stories like Norman Williams’.