Three Strikes Reform

The “get tough on crime” movement of past decades has saddled the court system with a big array of mandatory sentences that keep our prisons and jails full but have not been shown to deter crime - among them is the Three Strikes laws. California has the harshest “Three Strikes” law in the country – a law that locks people away for 25 years to life even if their third offense was a very minor crime. We can’t put an end to mass incarceration without revisiting and reforming mindless mandatory sentencing laws.

Out of Prison, and Staying Out, After Third Strike in California

illiam Taylor III, once a lifer in state prison for two robbery convictions and the intent to sell a small packet of heroin, was savoring a moment he had scarcely dared to imagine: his first day alone, in a place of his own. “I love the apartment,” he said of the subsidized downtown studio, which could barely contain the double bed he insisted on having. “And I love that I’m free after 18 years of being controlled.” “My window has blinds, and I can open and close them!” he exclaimed to … [Read more...]

Three-Strikes Changes Appear to Be Working

While Justice Not Jails celebrates the reality that Dan Morain reports--i.e. the very low recidivism rate among the released Striker population--we also point out that the releases have proceeded very slowly. Too slowly. And in LA County community advocates have had to scramble to find free beds and services for the returnees because the county supervisors here inexplicably and inexcusably refuse to use any of the county's hundreds of millions in state AB 109 funds to meet the needs of this … [Read more...]

Born of Grief, ‘Three Strikes’ Laws Are Being Rethought

o most of the world – back in 1992 and even now — Mike Reynolds’s effort to keep repeat violent offenders locked up for life after the murder of his 18-year-old daughter, Kimber, in Fresno, California, was a non-event, not the opening salvo of what would become a barrage of state laws and referendums eventually known as the “Three Strikes and You’re Out” movement. Mr. Reynolds, a wedding photographer in California’s Central Valley, far from the media centers of the Bay Area and Los Angeles, … [Read more...]

After Third Strike, Many Now Walk

California begins to release prisoners after reforming its three-strikes law In 1992, 18-year-old student Kimber Reynolds came home to Fresno, California, to be a bridesmaid. As she left a restaurant, two men rolled up on a motorcycle and tried to snatch her purse. When she resisted, one of them shot her. She died 26 hours later. As the Reynolds family grieved, they learned that the shooter and his accomplice both had long rap sheets, largely for drugs and petty theft. Outraged that they … [Read more...]

Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Shame of Three Strikes Laws

On July 15th, 1995, in the quiet Southern California city of Whittier, a 33-year-old black man named Curtis Wilkerson got up from a booth at McDonald's, walked into a nearby mall and, within the space of two hours, turned himself into the unluckiest man on Earth. "I was supposed to be waiting there while my girlfriend was at the beauty salon," he says. So he waited. And waited. After a while, he paged her. "She was like, 'I need another hour,'" he says. "So I was like, 'Baby, I'm going to the … [Read more...]

California Votes to Reform Draconian “Three Strikes” Mandatory Minimum Law

After nearly 20 years and over $20 billion spent, California voters have voted overwhelmingly to reform our state's draconian "three strikes" law. The statewide ballot measure, Proposition 36, delivered a two-to-one mandate (68.6%-31.4%) to close a controversial loophole in the law so that life sentences can only be imposed when the new felony conviction is "serious or violent." Three strikes laws, often known as habitual offender laws, grew out of the "tough on crime" era of the 1980s and … [Read more...]

Liberate Hugo (Yogi) Pinell — February 8th

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CDCR Releases Plan to Cut Billions in Prison Spending and Meet Federal Court Mandates

SACRAMENTO - In the wake of a declining prison population resulting from Realignment, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today released a plan to cut billions in spending, comply with multiple federal court orders for inmate medical, mental health and dental care, and significantly improve the operation of California's prison system. The plan is titled "The Future of California Corrections: A Blueprint to Save Billions of Dollars, End Federal Oversight, and … [Read more...]

Three strikes reform could save $100 million a year

Voters will have the chance to dramatically remake California’s criminal justice system this fall. A ballot initiative to repeal the death penalty in California has already qualified for the November ballot:  Instead of death, the convicted would face life terms without the possibility of parole. And last week, supporters of an initiative to reform the Three Strikes law submitted more than 830,000 signatures to the state  (they need just 504,760) to qualify for the November ballot. This … [Read more...]

Revolving Doors: The Crisis in California’s Parole System

Each year, nearly 2,000 men and women walk out of California's overcrowded prisons and back into the North County communities where they lived. Most have no job and no place to live. Many are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. Few will succeed in rebuilding their lives, authorities say. A majority of parolees will return to prison within months of their release, some after committing crimes in their neighborhoods, others for violating parole. This is California's parole system, … [Read more...]