By, Rhonda Powell |Staff Writer|
In an act to reduce California’s high crime rate, residents unanimously voted in favor of the three-strikes law in 1994, sentencing repeat felon offenders to life in a state prison. If Proposition 36 passes however, this will be rule be reshaped.
According to ballotpedia.org, Proposition 36, “Maintains life sentence penalty for felons with non-serious, non-violent third strike if prior convictions were for rape, murder, or child molestation.”
The initiative proposes alterations to the three-strikes law only when new felony convictions are serious or dangerous. It allows offenders that are currently incarcerated, who had a non-violent third strikes a second chance with reducing their life sentence.
In addition, Proposition 36 will ease up on life sentences only if the third strike does not pertain to violence, drug offenses, sex issues or involve firearm possessions.
Currently there are 8,800 prisoners in California serving life terms under 1994’s law and if Proposition 36 passes, 3,000 convicted felons who are currently incarcerated for life by the three-strikes law and have a non-violent crime is subject to petition their sentence.
Those who oppose this law argue it is unjust and wrong. “Judges and Prosecutors don’t need Proposition 36. In fact, it reduces our ability to use three-strikes to target dangerous repeat felons and get them off the streets once and for all,” said Carl Adams, the President of the District Attorneys Association.
However, felony charges for possession of controlled substances and grand theft (no firearms involved), are not classified as “violent or serious.”
According to the California General Election Guide, if Proposition 36 passes , the revision of the three-strike law can also save the state $70 million dollars annually in prison and parole operation and up to $90 million annually over the next couple of decades.”
Estimates on saving are a total of $150 to $200 million for the state annually.