Reforming California Sentencing Law

Topics: Prison, Penology, Criminology Pages: 3 (1101 words) Published: November 24, 2013
Reforming California’s Sentencing Law

Hearing the words “three strikes, you’re out” probably invoke thoughts of umpires, baseballs, and pitchers in the minds of most. In California, if you are familiar with the legal system, “three strikes, you’re out” will likely give you a vision of thousands of inmates dressed in orange, sleeping on bunk beds inside overcrowded gyms. In November 1994, California legislators and voters made a major change to the California sentencing laws with Proposition 184. This proposition better known as the “3 Strikes Law” has long been a controversial topic in California. It has spurred debates as to whether it is considered cruel and unusual punishment for the thousands of repeat offenders sentenced every year. Proposition 184 is a cruel punishment for the thousands of inmates packed into state prisons, and the taxpayers spending billions to keep them there. Over the years legislators have sought a way to reform the 3 strikes law. In November of 2012, Proposition 36 was enacted as an initiative designed to preserve the original idea. The idea was to impose life sentences on serious and violent offenders without imposing excessive sentences on non-violent offenders. As California searches for ways to decrease the recidivism rate of serious and violent offenders, we have to consider the current laws and the impact these laws have on the state of California. Currently 4,000 men and women who are serving terms of 25 to life in California state prisons are non-violent offenders. Among these offenders are those who committed acts such as; stealing a pack of batteries or socks. Crimes that in most states would warrant only a slap on the wrist, instead of the life sentence you would receive in California. In 2004, 26% of the prison populations were non-violent offenders serving a life term (Miles, 2013). Under the 3 strikes law, offenders who had no prior violent offenses were sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years....
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