This chart depicts the number of inmates incarcerated throughout the United States with sentences of 20 years or more or life as of 1/1/99.

California’s 3 Strike law has always been under severe criticism since its inception. California was taken to court on trumped up “issues” of not being able to provide proper medical treatment. This was found “unconsitutional” as cruel and unusual punishment. The truth was that California was and always has been in the middle of those states with medium prison population as borne out by the preceding PDF file showing all 50 states and the number of “lifers” in each prison.

California is in the middle of the pack, so to speak, with some states having more lifers – and no 3 Strikes law to blame for it – and some having less.

At the time of this writing, there is a bipartisan, nationwide effort at the federal level to ease up on sentencing for non-violent, non-serious felons and to release them. See the links below. It could be just the pendulum swinging back or it could have greater implications.

House OKs reform bill on releasing nonviolent inmates

DOJ to Free 6,000 Non-Violent Drug Offenders – Largest One-Time Release in History

Justice plans sentencing changes for non-violent criminals