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Taibbi: Politicians and Law Enforcement Have Trapped Too Many People in Jail for Life with Extreme Three Strikes Laws

A parade of politicians and law enforcement officials has created a Pandora’s box that’s trapped countless low-income offenders.
California’s colossal calamity known as the Three Strikes sentencing law was made less  strident by voters last fall. But according to a  profile by Matt Taibbi in  Rolling Stone, the wreckage from 16 years of putting people away for life continues to extract an absurd toll in which thousands of petty criminals and mentally ill people are jailed for no good reason.  

California passed its law after the brutal kidnapping and murder of a 12-year-old  girl in a small northern California town in 1993. But as Taibbi chronicles, a parade of Democratic and Republican politicians, law enforcement officials and get-tough-on-crime activists has created a Pandora’s box that’s trapped more low-rent offenders than anyone else, ruining lives and costing taxpayers multiple millions.

The law imposing life for anyone convicted of a third felony took effect on March 8, 1994. Nine hours later it found its first victim, Taibbi notes, “a homeless schizophrenic named Lester Wallace, with two nonviolent burglaries on his sheet, who attempted to steal a car radio near the University of Southern California campus.”

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