I’m reviewing all of the state propositions that will be on the California Ballot in November. Today’s post goes over Proposition 36: Amending the Three Strikes Law. Are you ready? Let’s go!
California Proposition 36: Three Strikes Law!
The legislative analysis for Proposition 36 begins with definitions of what is a felony. Simply speaking – a felony is the most serious crime that you can commit. There are three major kinds of felonies: ..violent (murder, robbery, and rape) and serious (assault with a deadly weapon, intent to commit robbery) and those that are non-serious (grand theft with no firearm and drug posession).
Proposotion 184, the Three Strikes Law, was adopted by voters in 1994 and requires a person who has committed a felony, and has one or more volent or serious felony convictions in their history, to be sentenced with more severe jail time…
Second Time Offenders: a person with one previous violent or serious felony and is convicted of another one (and it doesn’t have to be violent or serious) would receive double the prison sentence otherwise required by law. As of March 2012, 33,000 prisoners are “second strikers”.
Third Time Offenders: for persons with two or more previous violent or serious felonies, and a new felony sentence (and it doesnt’ have to be violent or serious), would face life in prison with a chance of parole only after 25 years. As of March 2012, 9,000 prisoners are “third strikers”.
Prison Release Determination. If you are a third striker, you must undergo a hearing by the Board of Parole to determine if you are fit for release. The first wave of third strikers will become eligible for a parole hearing at the end of this decade.
Post Release Supervision. Second and Third Strikers are placed under community supervision upon release and if they violate the law they can be placed back in county or state prison (depending on the offense).
Shorter Sentences for some Third Strikers if a person has two violent or serious prior felony offenses and is convicted of a new felony that is not serious, instead of 25 years to life, they would receive twice the usual prison term for the new offense. Exeptions: if the new offense is certain drug, sex or gun related felony. (wishing they would define certain here.)
Resentencing of some Third Strikers ..this allows those who are currently serving a sentence for a non-serious felony (not related to certain drug, sex or gun related crimes) to apply for resentencing and recieve twice the usual prison term for the current non-serious felony.
State Correctional Savings ..this would save money by having less third strikers sentenced to life, and having some of those currently sentenced to life have their sentence reduced. It would also reduce parole costs and Board Parole Hearings. $70-90 million annually. (+)
Resentencing Costs ..involving new hearings, housing of prisoners during resentencing and increased staff work load. This would cost $2 million annually for 2 years. (-)
Other costs .. there could be some other effects, like changes in parole supervision, those released possibly committing other crimes, or maybe they enter the workforce and bring in revenue via taxes. Who knows..the legislative analysists don’t. LOL (=)
PROS and CONS
George Gascon, a San Francisco District Attorney, in SF Gate writes that the Three Strikes Law was voted in with the best intentions but there were unintended consequences.
- More than 8,500 prisoners have been sentenced to life in-prison for non-violent and non-serious crimes ..like shoplifting or simple drug posession.
- It has clogged our prison system costing millions of dollars.
- Proposition 36 has already been proven effective. San Francisco and Los Angeles County has already implemented a form of it and crime has already gone down.
Mike Reynolds, the author of the 1994 “Three Strikes Law” writes in SF Gate that the law benefits California..
- These felons that would be released from prison are already repeat offenders. They will commit crimes again..and any savings to be had will be used up by putting them back into prison all over again.
- The real savings is having nearly a 50 percent reduction in crime since the passage of the Three Strikes.
- Every major law enforcement agency and organization and crime-victims groups in California opposes this legislation.
What do you think?
Are you afraid that releasing Third Strikers will increase the crime rate? Or do you feel that those commiting non-serious felonies shouldn’t stay in jail for life?