Intended to reduce or eliminate the opportunity for violent, repeat offenders to commit further serious crime, the California Three Strikes Law meted out harsh inequitable punishment at enormous cost:
Revised over the years, the Three Strikes Law became a legislative weapon against oftentimes minor criminals, ruining lives and running up housing and prison costs in ways not considered when the measure was enacted.
In November of last year, California citizens took a closer look at who was going to prison for what crimes and decided reform was at hand. By passing Proposition 36, sentencing guidelines were restructured to eliminate a 25 year to life term for defendants who commit a third, but non-serious, non-violent felony crime.
The reforms affect not only defendants entering the California criminal justice system, but those already incarcerated under the older Three Strikes Law. Since passage of Proposition 36 in November, 37 prisoners have been released from prison in Sacramento County alone.
A measure intended to abolish the death penalty in California was also before voters in November. Interestingly, while this measure to more humanely apply sentencing guidelines to save prisoners from languishing in jail at taxpayer expense passed, the legislation to end the death penalty in California did not.
With reform of the Three Strikes Law, all three offenses, or strikes, must be violent or serious felonies in order to earn a sentence of 25 years to life.
There are good reasons for sentencing guidelines that protect society from violent career criminals. Proposition 36 goes some way to protect people who make less serious mistakes from facing the same fate as these hardened criminals.
Posted in Constitutional Rights | Tagged death penalty, proposition 36, three strikes law, violent crimes