Any report published by the proponents of Proposition 36 and its results call into question its neutral balance. There is, however, some merit to the fact that offenders that have served time and have been in the 3 Strikes program have a determinately reduced chance of becoming a repeat offender. We have known that fact for the nearly 20 years of 3 Strikes and by prior studies released by the FBI, Harvard Law, and the Chicago Institute, all of which were published long before Proposition 36 and are on our website (www.threestrikes.org/studies).
It should be mentioned that all prior studies were based on the release of second strikers because no third strikers had been released at that time.
This relatively small number of re-offenders would make sense inasmuch as the 1,500 third strikers released were carefully screened by the courts and prosecutors to be the least likely to commit new crimes upon their re-entry into society. There were the cream of the crop.
Those that remain in custody represent a much greater threat.
This study also has some obvious and deliberate omissions. The Stanford Study only counts third strikers returned to state prison. No account has been made for strikers that are in county jail awaiting their day in court. And no account for third strikers that were released under Proposition 36 and are now serving their time for new felonies in county jails instead of state prison thanks to Realignment.
The last and most important part of Proposition 36 is that we are suddenly seeing big increases in all crime categories throughout the state for the first time since the passage of 3 Strikes in 1994.
If Proposition 36 was an effort to reduce prison population, save money and produce a more fair 3 Strikes Law, it will become rapidly apparent that it missed the mark, by raising crime rates.
What increases, prison population is the conviction of more criminals as a result of more crime. As our crime laws no longer carry a threat of punishment, we see more young offenders entering a life of easy money, drugs, and violence.
Why can’t we seem to remember the 1970s and 80s and the rising crime rates that forced our state to nearly triple California’s prison construction?
When 3 Strikes passed in 1994, California had the 4th highest crime rates in the nation.