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Loretta Sanchez attacks Senate rival Kamala Harris over prison inmate ballot measure

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, left, and California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris. (Associated Press)
Rep. Loretta Sanchez, left, and California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris. (Associated Press)

Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez on Tuesday criticized her rival in California’s U.S. Senate race, state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, for drafting a “misleading” ballot summary of Proposition 57, a measure that offers a chance of early release to more prison inmates.

Sanchez said the summary of the measure makes it appear that only nonviolent felons would be eligible for early release. However, she said, eligible inmates include those convicted of raping an unconscious person, human trafficking that involves a sex act with a minor and providing guns to gang members.

“It’s irresponsible and dangerous, and it will soften our laws at a time when crime is on the rise in California,” Sanchez said at a news conference in Los Angeles, joined by opponents of Proposition 57.

The attorney general is tasked with writing the title and a 100-word summary for all statewide ballot measures. Because of that responsibility, Harris has declined to take positions on ballot measures.

The Harris campaign offered a quick response on Tuesday.

“Loretta Sanchez is once again cribbing from Donald Trump's playbook, using false smears and desperate demagoguery to scare up support for her campaign,” Harris campaign spokesman Nathan Click said in a statement. “Meanwhile, in Washington, Sanchez helped fuel America's mass incarceration crisis by voting to send more kids to prison, build more prisons and ratchet up mandatory minimums for nonviolent crimes.”

Gov. Jerry Brown has been the main force behind Proposition 57. The measure would offer an opportunity for early release to prison inmates who have completed their initial sentence for a crime deemed to be nonviolent.

The chance for parole would be based on earning good behavior and education credits. Proposition 57 also would allow judges to keep juvenile defendants who are 14 and older out of adult courts.

Sanchez and Harris meet in the only general election Senate debate Wednesday evening at Cal State Los Angeles.

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