Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Three Strikes, A Sad History

Posted on: October 2, 2008 at 11:32 a.m.

California's Three Strikes Law has ruined the lives of many individuals. Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys who have spent any amount of time defending the accused have seen individuals sentenced to decades in prison for crimes that, if committed by themselves, wouldn't make anyone bat and eyelash.

Here is a short list of those serving long prison sentences for violating the third strike:

Rene Landa
Sentence: 27 years to life for stealing a spare tire

Johnny Quirino
Sentence: 25 years to life for petty theft of razor blades

Keffer Runnels
Sentence: 25 years to life for petty theft

Thomas Williams
Sentence: 25 years to life for possession of a stolen bicycle

George Michael Lane
Sentence: 25 years to life for possession of $40 worth of roommate's jewelry

David Lynn Robinson
Sentence: 25 years to life for attempted forged check and forged check

By themselves, these crimes would garner little, if any, jail time. Most are petty theft offenses, and many others who are in jail violated minor crimes to receive their life sentence. Others who have received a third strike are in jail even though they are mentally disabled in one way or another. People who find themselves facing a potential third strike conviction need Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys who know the ins and outs of the law, and who can give them expert advice. Many of those in jail didn't know their rights, or the potential cause of being convicted of a third strike offense.

While various community and civic organizations have fought to reform, or even repeal the mandatory sentencing guidelines of the Three Strikes laws, California State Attorney General Jerry Brown has fought for tougher laws to keep criminals off the streets by imposing a strict curfew for those who have committed serious crimes at night and was a leader in the campaign to defeat Proposition 66 - an attempt to dismantle California's three strikes law.

In fact, the Three Strikes laws are growing, there's a new proposition piggy-backing onto the Three Strikes penalties:

Proposition 6

What it does: Commits close to 1% of the state's annual general fund budget for anti-crime programs. The state Legislative Analyst's Office estimates costs of $500 million for additional prison space.

Back story: This is the Son of Three Strikes and Jessica's Law. It's sponsored in part by Mike Reynolds, author of the 1994 Three Strikes Initiative, and state Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster), whose anti-sex-offender Proposition 83 -- Jessica's Law -- won 71% of the vote in 2006. The top donor is Henry T. Nicholas III, who gave $1 million (see Proposition 9).

Tagged as: three strikes laws


Barbara Brooks on October 4, 2008 at 12:23 p.m. wrote:

Where is a good attorney when you really need one? I have heard that even though attorneys do not agree with the 3-strike law, they don't want it changed, because these cases means too much money for them. Tell me it's not so. Prisoners and their families are victims of the big dogs who have the financial resources to make laws any way they want. When our U.S. Constitution was written, the writers put in protections for all citizens, in the event they might be accused of something or convicted. They knew that it would be easy for the public to sympathize with the victim or victim's family. And if that sympathy was brought into the hearings, trials, jury, parole, the accused would not stand a chance. This is why neutral justice must prevail. Imagine yourself being accused of something you did not do. Maybe a mistaken identity. And the victims get to speak in your bail hearing, to the jury, all the court proceedings, and at your parole. That is what Prop 9 wants to do to you. After serving your time, even if you have been wrongfully convicted, the parole board will have the power to extend your review for 15 years, because the victims don't like coming to the parole hearings every 1-3 years. The extension could only be reduced to 10-7-5 or 3 years, if it can be shown by clear and convincing evidence that you would not be a public safety risk. At the hearing, the victims and their families and anyone they may appoint to represent them at your hearing can say anything, and you will not be able to question them or make any comment. The victims rights will be more powerful than you, the accused, whether you are innocent or not. If this prop passes, whatever restitution is ordered by the judge will be your first obligation, above any fines or other financial obligations. The victims will be able to have access to your address, bank records,home ownership, etc. Your debt to society will never be paid. Don't ever think this law can be changed. If Prop 9 becomes law, it is written so that it will take 3/4 of the legislature to modify it. However, if the legislature would want to add more rights to the victims, it would only take a majority vote. Victims say they want equal rights, but what is equal about that? Would you want to be up against the victim if you are accused of a crime? The accused needs the protection of the U.S. Constitution, and this prop would change the CA Constitution to favor and give added weight/power to the victim. Victims already have many rights in CA, without changing our state constitution, and paying a fortune every year. I hope and pray that the voters will refuse to finance this vindictive initiative, financed by Henry Nicholas, who himself has been charged with federal crimes regarding stock backdating and distributing drugs and supplying prostitutes to his guests in a room under his home, with its own tunnel. Mike Reynolds, father of the Three-Strikes law, and all of these politicians who support, and are friends involved with Henry Nicholas and his money ought to be ashamed.

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