The Green Party took a position of ‘no position’ on Prop 35 because despite Prop 35’s strong points, and the immense need to address human trafficking, there were some provisions of Prop 35 party members were not comfortable voting into law.
The Green Party's Ten Key Values include Feminism, Social Justice and Non-violence. Supporting efforts to stop human trafficking – modern day slavery - addresses all three.
Human trafficking is not a petty crime. It is a brutal human rights abuse that is growing rapidly worldwide, in large part as a result of traffickers adapting their illegal trade to the internet, which also allows them greater ease in evading law enforcement.
Prop 35 describes human trafficking as involving exploitation of an individual through force or coercion for commercial gain. It substantially increases sentences for offenders (including up to life for when the offense involves a minor and “force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion”); requires convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders; and creates a fund from imposed fines to aid victims through community-based organizations and to educate law enforcement about trafficking.
Greens have a commitment to stand with the tens of thousands of oppressed and brutalized women and children, both foreign and domestic. California is a hot spot for domestic and international human trafficking because of its large population, international borders, large economy, extensive ports, and metropolitan regions. Three California cities – San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego – are recognized by the FBI as high intensity child sex trafficking areas.
One of the most challenging and violent evils of our time, a most heinous facet of the war on women, and a product of overt as well as unconscious sexism, human trafficking does not get the attention it deserves because of lack of awareness and understanding of the nature of the crime. Prop 35 will also increase awareness and help educate the public as to the harsh realities involved with human trafficking.
However, there were concerns by some party members that the increased sentencing promotes harsher punishment, but doesn’t address root causes – thus seeming to buy into the ‘tough on crime’ mindset without promoting education and understanding of the rights and dignity of women and children. Our key values of Feminism, Nonviolence and Social Justice suggest we should strive for the reduction of these crimes and their prevention.
Prop 35 would also continue the mandatory minimum system. By curbing judicial discretion, mandatory minimums shift power to prosecutors who can threaten defendants who may want to exercise their trial rights with 'overcharging.' Overcharging is the practice of bringing more charges against a defendant, often more than the evidence reasonably supports -- and often under mandatory minimums charges that carry substantially longer sentences, sometimes decades longer -- in order to incentivize them to plead guilty to lesser charges.
Another concern was that Prop 35’s lifetime requirement for anyone who registers as a sex offender (including sex traffickers) to provide a law enforcement agency a list of internet identifiers and internet service providers. If the individual who is required to register changes his or her internet service provider or adds or changes an internet identifier, that person is required to send written notice of the addition(s) or change(s) to the agencies with which he or she is currently registered within 24 hours – meaning failure to report a change in internet provider within 24 hours can provide DA’s reason to convict and in some cases, as a ‘third strike,' making it more difficult for people who already served their time to get back into society.
The diversity of opinion within the Green Party reflected the classic dilemma voters have with some initiatives, in that the initiative has to be accepted 100% or not, and if there are parts you don't really support, but you only get a yes or no vote, what do you do? In this case, because there were strong arguments for both sides, the Green Party position is 'no position.'
More on Proposition 35 from the California Official Voter Information Guide: