This smiling young father was facing a shakespearean tragedy just 8 months ago. The same day his daughter was born, he was told he was facing a life sentence. The extreme sentencing came from California’s Three Strikes Law — the sentencing scheme that is on the ballot for reform this November. ACJP organizer Gail Noble worked with the family to create a “mitigation packet” which was comprised of a biography of the young man’s social history, support letters, photos of his life, and a description of his intention if allowed to return to his family. The packet, through the attorney, was given to the court for review when determining sentencing. The life sentence went down to an 8 month county sentence — the amount of time the charge would normally hold without 3 Strikes. The defense attorney told ACJP, “That packet is the reason he is coming home.”
California is currently going through a Supreme Court mandated process to reduce its prison population, but experts ask whether they are looking at the most burdensome sentencing schemes, and the most bloated inmate populations, like two strikers…
July 31, 2011| By Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Staff Writer
California’s “three strikes” law is best known for locking up career criminals for life, but the vast majority of offenders serving prison time under the sentencing mandate were actually charged under the less-noticed second-strike provision.
These 32,390 inmates are serving sentences that were doubled as a strike-two penalty, and they account for nearly 20 percent of the state’s prison population. Yet most efforts to reform the law have focused exclusively on the third-strike provision, which carries with it a mandatory 25 years-to-life sentence.
As prison costs in California continue to grow, and the state faces a Supreme Court order to reduce its inmate population by more than 30,000 over the next two years, the tens of thousands of second-strikers appear to pose a bigger challenge to state officials attempting to rein in prison costs than the 8,700 people serving time for a third strike. Continue reading