Friday, November 9, 2012

California Voters Scrap Draconian "Three Strikes" Law

Although 25 other states have passed three-strikes laws, only California punishes minor crimes with a life sentence.

After nearly 20 years and over $20 billion spent, California voters have voted overwhelmingly to reform our state’s draconian “three strikes” law. The statewide ballot measure,  Proposition 36 , delivered a two-to-one mandate (68.6%-31.4%) to close a controversial loophole in the law so that life sentences can only be imposed when the new felony conviction is “serious or violent.”

Three strikes laws, often known as habitual offender laws, grew out of the “tough on crime” era of the 1980s and 90s. Between 1993 and 1995, 24 states passed some kind of three strikes law, but California’s 1994 three strikes ballot measure was especially harsh.

While the 1994  law required the first and second strike to be either violent or serious, any infraction could trigger a third strike and the life sentence that went with it. Therefore, petty offenses – such as stealing a piece of pizza – have led to life imprisonment for thousands of people.

Read on...

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