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This edition of The Razor Wire is available as a full size, full color, fully printable Adobe Acrobat PDF file.

NORA (The Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act) is a grassroots initiative prepared for the November 4, 2008 ballot in California, offering a common-sense solution to prison overcrowding. After an official January kickoff, the popular campaign is going strong. The official sponsor is called the NORA Campaign, supported by the Campaign for New Drug Policies and Drug Policy Alliance Network.

California's Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, on June 27 announced that NORA would be numbered Proposition 5 on the November ballot. Owen found that NORA supporters had turned in 761,183 voter signatures to ensure meeting overall requirement that 433,971 signatures be found valid.

To qualify on the expedited "random sample" process, NORA needed to have 477,369 "projected" valid signatures. Before some counties had reported results, Bowen certified NORA after receiving reports of 483,278 valid signatures on file. Final totals should be available by late-Summer.

Thanks to our signature-gathering teams, volunteers and, of course, the hundreds of thousands of Californians who agree it's time for change and helped put NORA on the ballot! Here's a brief summary:

* Requires State to expand and increase funding and oversight for individualized treatment and rehabilitation programs for nonviolent drug offenders and parolees.

* Reduces criminal consequences of nonviolent drug offenses by mandating three-tiered probation with treatment and by providing for case dismissal and/or sealing of records after probation. Limits court's authority to incarcerate offenders who violate probation or parole.

* Shortens parole for most drug offenses, including sales, and for nonviolent property crimes.

* Creates numerous divisions, boards, commissions, and reporting requirements regarding drug treatment and rehabilitation. Independent oversight panel would have authority over major features of implementation.

* Changes certain marijuana misdemeanors to infractions. Fines paid for simple marijuana possession would help pay for programs for special at-risk youth.

The measure saves prison beds by requiring local sanctions, not prison, to punish minor parole violations by nonviolent prisoners.

Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government:

* Increased state costs that could exceed $1 billion annually primarily for expanding drug treatment and rehabilitation programs for offenders in state prisons, on parole, and in the community.

* Savings to the state that could exceed $1 billion annually due primarily to reduced prison and parole operating costs.

* Net savings on a one-time basis on capital outlay costs for prison facilities that could exceed $2.5 billion over several years.

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