"Three Strikes and You're Out" 15 Year Report shows an average of 1,000,000 serious or violent crimes are prevented every 5 years and 10,000 Californians spared from becoming murder victims since its passage in 1994. One amazing fact is that although California's population has gone up by 14,000,000 residents since its passage crime has not gone up proportionately. A remarkable stastic indeed. We've made a distributable PDF version available. Mike Reynolds has written some remarks to introduce this monumental study.
I would say crime is still a big issue when we see Prop 36 and now Prop 47 pretend they have the support of law enforcement and crime victims, campaigning on the promise of reducing crime.
With titles like "3 Strikes Law, Sentencing for Repeat Offenders" for Prop 36, and "The Safe Neighborhoods and School Funding Act" for Prop 47, voters are under the belief they will reduce crime and save money.
Dan Walters has previously done articles on how out Attorney General Kamala Harris often mislabels initiatives that change the actual intent to be misread by the voters. Now is no different.
Mike Reynolds said the Bee finally got one right, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Today the Fresno and Sacramento Bee newspapers came out against Prop 47, saying it goes too far too soon. That, is an understatement. Read for yourself the Bee's opinion via this link.
PROPOSITION 47 AND 3 STRIKES The simple overview sums up Prop. 47 as reducing approximately 400 offenses on the California felony list to only misdemeanors when the amount of the loss is less than $950. It then would require time to be served as 1 year or less in county jail. This, of course, is subject to 50% time credits.
There is, however, a more damaging aspect to California's 3 Strikes law that goes beyond the impact of Prop. 36. Prop. 36 reduced all third strikes that were not serious or violent to second strike status requiring that the penalty for the non serious or violent felony be doubled and 80% of the time be served in "state prison."
Now many offenders walking our streets with strikes are facing second strike penalties if they commit a new felony.
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Gov. Jerry Brown's prison reforms haven't lived up to his billing. Although Jerry Brown claims the so-called prison crisis is over, today, California is spending nearly $2 billion a year more on incarceration than when Brown introduced his strategy in 2011. The prisons are still overcrowded, and the state has been forced to release inmates early to satisfy federal judges overseeing the system. Counties, given custody of more than 142,000 felons so far, complain that the state isn't paying full freight for their supervision. Many jails are now overcrowded, and tens of thousands of criminals have been freed to make room for more. And in Jerry's world everything is just fine.
In light of the recent introduction of an initiative to diminish 3 Strikes by a Stanford Law professor, you would think that a Bay Area Law School would be the last place you would expect to find a positive review on 3 Strikes. SURPRISE!
We are often asked, "How did 3 Strikes get started? What was its origin?"
The story is best told in a segment from ABC's 20 20 TV show with Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs.
It was first aired January 19, 1994.
A complete account can be found in the book, "3 Strikes and You're Out: A Promise to Kimber," from Quill Driver Books, authors Mike Reynolds, Bill Jones, and Dan Evans.
It should be noted that upon Douglas Walker's release from prison that he returned to a life of crime and acquired 2 more felony convictions, both were strikes. Walker is now doing 10 years of a 12 year sentence.
With the arrest of multiple murder suspect, John Wesley Ewell, whose wife is the state treasurer of FACTS (the Families to Amend California's Three Strikes law), information is coming to light questioning the wisdom of Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley's lenient and liberal application of the nation's foremost sentencing law. With a serious and sometimes violent criminal history stretching back to the 1980s, Ewell was the beneficiary of numerous opportunities for Cooley to remand Ewell to prison custody but did not. Ewell could have been sentenced several times to 25 to life, thus preventing Ewell freedom to progress from robbery and felony fraud (2 previous serious and violent strikes) to morph into a serial killer. Mike Reynolds prepared comments on this incident for our visitors and the link to the LA Times story is available here.
This is a partial listing of criminals currently serving time under Three Strikes sentencing guidlines that WOULD HAVE BEEN BE RELEASED IF PROPOSITION 66 HAD PASS last November 2, 2004.
The LA Times carried a story 31 May 2004 about how Jerry Keenan, who owns a Sacramento insurance brokerage, put up $1.56 million to get his son, convicted of 2 manslaughter charges, out of prison. Mike Reynolds said, "It's a dark day for Californians when one man can put up enough money to overturn the most successful law in the US in order to get his son out of prison, with disregard to the thousands upon thousands of serious and violent criminals it will turn lose to prey upon society." Please see Contra Costa County District Attorney Pipes' analysis of those likely to be released.
THE US SUPREME COURT HAS RULED THAT CALIFORNIA'S THREE STRIKES SENTENCING LAW IS CONSTITUTIONAL. Please see our News Articles Page, for the first AP article from Wednesday. We also have Adobe AcroReader PDF files of the justices reasoning available.
California's Three Strikes sentencing law has not overflowed the state's prisons. In fact, there is a slight 0.7% increase, (+1,193) this year (2006). Click here to go to the California State Department of Corrections website to view this statistic. Scroll down to ABOUT PRISONS.
California's crime rate is down 32.7% versus a 13.0% drop for the rest of the nation! New York state added 34,000 police to achieve an even greater reduction than California - 33.4% in the 6 major categories. One thing is clear: It is the fear of being caught and punished that has reduced crime in these states. Click here to view to our online copy of the FBI report.
"'Three Strikes' was implemented before a chorus of nay sayers and critics, but now after four years of historic reductions in crime, their complaints are becoming increasingly drowned out by the undeniable reality that Californians are the safest they have been in the past 30 years." Dan Lungren, former California State Attorney General. CA Attorney General Report 1998
"Five years later, we now have evidence that fewer crimes are being committed, fewer inmates than expected are going to prison, and more career criminals on parole have left the state for more crime-tolerant locales." Bill Jones, Secretary of the State of California. CA Secretary of State Report, Feb. 1999
"Contrary to popular opinion, this analysis suggests that discretion is not being used haphazardly or irresponsibly. Rather, this study offers reassurance that prosecutors are acting in accordance to the standard in the furtherance of justice set forth by the legislature." An unofficial private study, JE Walsh, Assistant Professor CSULA, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics.
"Many things must be considered in measuring the impact of Three Strikes. Has it been effective in removing career criminals from the general population? Clearly the answer is yes. Has it been effective in obtaining more pleas, particularly with second strike offenders? Clearly the answer is yes. Has it been effective in mandating prison sentences for career criminals as opposed to probation and minimal treatment releasing them back into the community? Clearly the answer is yes. If you don't believe me, ask a District Attorney." A Review by Judge James Ardaiz
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States that have some form of 3-STRIKES law are listed here.
"California's Three Strikes sentencing law has even helped bring down crime throughout the United States." Link to this article.
"Though it is true that minorities are incarcerated at a disproportionate ratio compared to the rest of the population, minority communities are experiencing the greatest drops in crime rates." Link to this article.
"Though it seems that Three Strikes locks up petty thieves for simple crimes, keep in mind that a criminal must have 2 prior serious or violent felonies to receive 25 years or life." Link to this article.
"It's been said that California voters were hoodwinked into voting for Three Strikes." "It wasn't clear to the voters," it is claimed, "that after 2 serious or violent felonies a third non-violent or non-serious felony would send someone to prison for life." It isn't true! Link to this article.