The current 3-strikes law in CA does not require that the 3rd strike be a serious or violent offense. It can be ANY FELONY. This is a FLAW in the law, and IT WAS NOT THE ORIGINAL INTENTION OF THE VOTERS, who understood that this law, as portrayed in the media, would be for violent offenders only. Because of this flaw, it needs to be changed so that ONLY serious or violent offenses would be counted as strikes. This is what the ORIGINAL INTENTION of the voters was.
Currently, the law gives a MINIMUM of 25 years to life in prison for approximately 4,400 non-serious and non-violent offenders. Since 1994, it has targeted our loved ones, friends, and neighbors. It has put them away FOR LIFE; felonies, such as stealing a pack of cigarettes, writing a hot check for $7, possession of very small amounts of drugs, including marijuana, watching a drug deal, and other minor offenses. Not only is this current 3-strikes law an UNJUST law that is too broad, but it is costing CA taxpayers an enormous fortune.
EACH of those non-serious, non-violent 3-strikers costs OVER ONE MILLION DOLLARS to be housed for the MINIMUM of 25 years. There is no guarantee that these men and women will be paroled in 25 years. California is on the EDGE OF BANKRUPTCY...they have been spending billions each year on the prison budget, and the 3-strikes law has contributed heavily to the over-population we have had for years. The 2012-13 budget for Corrections was OVER $10 BILLION DOLLARS. The only way to cut down this waste of taxpayer dollars on prisons is to reduce the prison population. A staff reduction should be expected. Although our Governor Jerry Brown has a plan to house newly convicted non-serious, non-violent prisoners in county jails, rather than in state prison, this will not affect any strikers. Three-Strikers are there to stay for a minimum of 25 years. They KEEP THE POPULATION UP. According to the Department of Corrections Annual Report for 2011, the average cost per inmate from 2010-11, was $45,006. As these men and women age, it costs 3 times more to house them. If the length of the sentence was appropriate for the type of crime committed, our prison costs would be drastically reduced. LET THE TIME FIT THE CRIME.
If Prop 36 passes in November 2012, it will STOP giving 25 years-to-life minimum sentences to those whose 3rd strike is non-serious, non-violent. It would also be retroactive for those non-serious, non-violent 3-strikers already in prison under the current 3-strikes law. Prop 36 is a CONSERVATIVE measure, which would give ONLY non-violent, non-serious 3-strikers an OPPORTUNITY to be heard by the sentencing judge. IF the judge determines that there is NO UNREASONABLE RISK TO PUBLIC SAFETY, the 3rd striker can be resentenced to DOUBLE the ordinary sentence that would have been given, had there been no 3-strikes law. We can then IMMEDIATELY START SAVING OUR TAXPAYERS DOLLARS, SAVING OVER A $100 MILLION DOLLARS EVERY YEAR!
Being a CONSERVATIVE initiative, Proposition 36 will affect approximately 3-4,000 of all the non-serious, non-violent 3rd strikers.
Proposition 36 HAS PROTECTIONS written into it, so that anyone whose third offense is, or who has a history of murder, child molestation, rape, or having to be registered as a sex offender WILL NOT be able to be resentenced by the court. Anyone, in the CURRENT OFFENSE, who uses a firearm or armed with a firearm or deadly weapon, or intended to cause great bodily injury to another person, will not be able to be resentenced. Anyone whose CURRENT offense is a controlled substance charge where the weight of the substance exceeds one kilogram, will not be able to be resentenced. Other protections are written into Prop 36, too numerous to mention here.
Again, I tell you, that Proposition 36 is a CONSERVATIVE measure and has many protections for public safety written into it. Our opposition will distort and will lie about who will get out of prison, and the dangers of changing the law. Remember, as we have learned, that politics is ugly, and these are merely political SCARE TACTICS and FEAR MONGERING, commonly used in campaigns in order to manipulate the voters.
Our hope is that the voters in CA will get well-informed on Prop 36, and not fall into the trap of politicians or others who choose to distort the truth, professing lies for their own gain.
YOUR VOTE COUNTS! IT MEANS SOMETHING! VOTE YES ON PROP 36!
NOVEMBER 6, 2012!
Barbara Brooks, Publisher-SJRA Advocate, a newsletter on prison issues
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