A Chance to Change 3 Strikes?

Undoubtedly, “3 strikes” as a concept remains popular.  But dig a little deeper and there are a lot of questions:

The San Jose Mercury News reported last week that a group is crafting ballot language and seeking high-profile endorsements for an initiative that would require that a third strike result only from a serious or violent felony conviction. Under California’s law, a third strike can be assessed for any felony, at times bringing sentences of 25 years to life prison for those convicted of crimes like petty theft.

On the same day the Mercury News article published, the Field Poll released survey results (PDF) showing 74 percent of registered voters would support altering the three-strikes law.

Thing is, back in 2006, Prop 66 had similar support before a horde of DAs and “ToughOnCrime” folks decided that discretion for judges just wasn’t necessary.  Apparently we need a hard and fast rule that locks up thousands of people for sometimes rather petty crimes.  The current 3-strikes prison count is at about 6% of the prison population, or about 8800 prisoners.

We should hear something about this proposed change to the policy, and then we can proceed on whether it is a step in the right direction.  But at this point, it is hard to see how anything could be worse than what we’re doing.

6 thoughts on “A Chance to Change 3 Strikes?”

  1. If a life sentence for theft is not a cruel and unusual punishment I don’t know what is!

    Our chicken-poop legislatures afraid of the prison workers and the tough on crime crowd on the left and right respectively have allowed this affront to human rights go on for to long!

    It’s just like retarded religious dogma, eternal punishment for a momentary action.  It’s as far from justice as you can get.

  2. Maybe we could think of a compromise that still reminds ex-cons you have to be on your very best behavior, but does not drain taxpayer money as bad. Maybe add an extra 20% more time for a 1 or 5 year sentence, but throwing the key away for stolen pizza seems stupid.

    I used to be against three strikes reform, but I am open to see ideas how to make it better. Three strikes for stolen pizza is like the tax cuts that do not get paid for by spending cuts.  

  3. There ought to be a price for recidivism, but life in prison is not the right price.  

  4. Judges still have full discretion to sentence “three strikes” offenders. 25 to Life is NEVER mandatory in the three strike scheme. Judges, in my experience, almost never fail to use this discretion and will indicate sentences of less than life for these habitual offenders.

    Any felony can be a third strike, but the judges always take into account the current offense when sentencing the defendant.

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