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California Three Strikes Laws: A Mine Field

Posted on: July 21, 2008 at 9:21 a.m.

In 1994, California enacted the infamous Three Strikes Laws which handed down mandatory and extended periods of incarceration to persons who have been convicted of a serious criminal offense on three or more separate occasions. Since that time, prison populations have increased 25%, showing they have not been any real deterrent to crime.

Under the Three Strikes Laws, the state punishes shoplifting and similar crimes as felony petty theft if the person who committed the crime has a prior conviction for any form of theft, including robbery or burglary. As a result, some defendants have been given sentences of 25 years to life in prison for such crimes as shoplifting golf clubs (Gary Ewing, previous strikes for burglary and robbery with a knife), nine videotapes (Leandro Andrade, previous strikes for home burglary), or, along with a violent assault, a slice of pepperoni pizza from a group of children (Jerry Dewayne Williams, four previous non-violent felonies, sentence later reduced to six years). It's almost as if the state uses prior convictions to imprison people they no longer want to prosecute or deal with, regardless of circumstances.

California also counts as strikes offenses in any of the other 49 states, as well as Federal crimes. Results of the Three Strikes Laws are incredibly unfortunate, both for the convicted and the tax payer. As of 2007, the California prison system, which is designed to hold 83,000, holds 170,000 inmates.

Throughout the years, various media outlets have investigated the gross negligence in the California prison system, as well as the affects the Three Strikes Laws have had on individuals and communities. California citizens have even attempted to pass laws adjusting the Three Strikes rules, however the propositions have failed in 2004 and 2000.

The attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP are experienced with Three Strikes Laws, their consequences, and how to manage the system and situation that defendants find themselves in.

Tagged as: three strikes laws

Comments:

Rachel Contreras on June 22, 2009 at 10:20 a.m. wrote:

Three strikes is a law that was fearmongered to get passed, one that is sucking California dry with it's extendend sentencing,of people for the sole purpose of keeping the CDC officers with jobs that are highly paid because of the CDC union negotiations.Right now the guards make $76,000 a year and $50,000 overtime for guards that have at most a GED education.Along with all the abuse they provide the prisoners,it seems to me that if the state is in such a financial crisis instead of taking money from the Elderly the Disabled and the Poor the three strikes law should be removed so that prisoners that were sentenced under extended sentences could be able to go home.









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