Three-Strikes Law

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Three-Strikes Law It is my intention to establish a relationship between the three strikes law and retention rates of prisoners incarcerated for low level offenses. Before I begin to discuss the three-strikes law, it is imperative that I give some background information on sentencing guidelines. During the 1970 's the incarceration sentences imposed were indeterminate, meaning the judge had the discretion to sentence an offender on a case by case basis and sentencing a person to state prison or county jail was supposed to be to rehabilitate that person so he/she could re-enter society. Often time’s prisoners were sentenced to different amounts of time for similar offenses. As a result of the unpredictability of early release cases and unclear…show more content…
In the early 1990’s, two very tragic, yet avoidable events transpired that would put into motion the passing and the implementation of California’s Three-Strikes Law. The first event took place on June 29, 1992; it involved a recent high school graduate, 18 year old girl named Kimber Reynolds. Two men accosted Kimber while on a motorcycle attempting to steal her purse; she was shot in the head with a Magnum .357 and died two days later. The police found the two thieves. The shooter died in a battle of gunfire with an officer. The second robber pled guilty to robbery and was sentenced to nine years, with good time/work time credits he could have gotten out in 50% or less of the sentence. Both these men were on parole with multiple convictions for violent crimes. Kimber’s father called a meeting with local officials and assemblymen to put together a bill that would keep people like the two that killed his daughter in prison for life. On March 1, 1993 lawmakers pushed forward Assembly Bill 971, “which in its original version mandated a tripling of the usual sentence upon the commission of any third felony” (Kieso, Douglas, W., 2005). Furthermore, On October 1, 1993, 12-year-old Polly Klaas was kidnapped from her home while having a sleepover with her friends. The kidnapping was more motivation for Kimber Reynolds’ dad to push AB 971 to reach it’s full potential. The Three-Strikes Law was simultaneously being written. What tipped the scales in the favor of the initiative…show more content…
Early on, even before the initiative passed problems were perceived regarding it’s structure. Unlike every other state that had a Three-Strikes Law, California’s stipulated that for habitual offenders any third felony could put them in for life, this included low level offenses like shop lifting or drug possessions. “During the first six weeks of the new law’s existence, Los Angeles County filed 152 third strike cases and 489 second strike cases” (Kieso, Douglas, W., 2005). Of the 152 Three-Strike cases, 37 were violent felonies, the rest were low level offenses some even as meager as a petty theft. “On July 30th, 1994 Jerry Dewayne Williams, 27, was arrested at the Redondo Beach Pier for taking a slice of pizza from some children ages 7 to 14. He faced 25 years-to-life under the Three-Strikes law. The case would become one of the best-known Three-Strikes episodes and thereafter be referred to as the “pizza slice” crime”, (Kieso, Douglas, W., 2005). The Three-Strikes Law of California was completely backfiring, offenders that were guilty of murder were being sentenced the same way an offender guilty of shoplifting was. Prison populations grew too fast to house all the inmates, overcrowding became worse than it had been in history. California’s budget could not keep up with the immediate need for new prisons, as a result, large portions of the inmate population was sent out of state to try to combat overcrowding. The amount of years an inmate was spending in an institution
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