Friday, November 30, 2012

Blog 12: California Horror Stories and the 3-Strikes Law By BRENT STAPLES

On November 24, 2012 The New York Times reported about the “3 strikes” rule in California. The article talked about how in 1994 the original law was approved by ballot right after a harsh crime was committed by a prisoner right after he got out of jail. This law was supposed to keep killers, rapists and child molesters off the streets for good. Later the article talks about how the three strikes cruel criminal justice system that lost all sense of proportion just giving out life sentences disproportionately to black defendants. The 3 strikes law made it so that the third offense could result in a life sentence and that offense could be any number of low-level felony convictions such as stealing from a tow truck, shoplifting or even stealing small change forms a parked car. The new law keeps the three strikes concept but it enforces a life sentence only when the third felony offense is serious or violent enough defined by the state law. This revision lets the courts re sentence thousands of people who were sent away for low-level third offenses and who present no danger to the public. The re sentencing process is shaping up as a kind of poll on the state’s cruel treatment of mentally ill defendants, who make up a substantial number of those with life sentences under the three strike rule. It is likely that many were too mentally impaired to assist their lawyers at the time of trial.
This is a very important current event because it is showing the criminal justice system is willing to change to help those affected by the harsh way of the system. This shows progression in the system that they do not just want to lock everyone up for little crimes but that they want to get the people who are doing major crimes so the prisons will not be as over populated.

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