October 1, 2004

Ballot Recommendations

Proposition 66: Limitations on “Three Strikes” Makes Sense

It was ten years ago that the voters of California passed the Three Strikes Law. The basic idea behind Three Strikes was to get the repeat criminals off the streets so they could not continue committing crimes. The problem with that law was that it did not distinguish between what would be considered a minor felony crime and a heinous crime. Three Strikes was indiscriminate, committing thousands of petty criminals to a life in prison.

After ten yeas of Three Strikes, the flaws of within the law are well documented and the cost to the taxpayers of locking up pot smokers is several million dollars annually. Prop. 66 is an attempt to fix the flaws.

Proposition 66 makes the following important changes to California’s current three strikes’ law:

• It requires the third strike, which imposes a 25-year-to-life sentence, to be for a serious or violent crime.

• It narrows the list of “strikes” to include truly violent or serious crimes. For example, lighting a trash can on fire or stealing a tool from an unoccupied garage would no longer be “strikes” that can bring life sentences. They’re still crimes, however, and will still be punished appropriately

• It allows re-sentencing for those serving life sentences if their third strike resulted from a non-serious, non-violent offense. That’s about 4,200 non-violent offenders.

•  It requires “strikes” to result from separate trials, to ensure that the law applies to repeat offenders as originally intended.

•  And it increases the punishment for sex crimes against children, allowing prosecutors the discretion to seek “one strike” sentences in the worst cases.

The fix for Three Strikes in no way changes the basic concept of Three Strikes, for those who deserve to be locked up for life will be locked up. And state savings will add up to several hundred million dollars annually, primarily to the prison system; local jail and court-related costs of potentially more than ten million dollars annually.

Prop. 66 is just plain common sense, let’s fix this problem and Vote Yes on Prop. 66.

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