California Puts 3-Strikes Law Up to Vote

Proposition 36 would limit 'strikes' to serious, violent crimes

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 20, 2012 5:04 PM CDT

(Newser) – Along with a proposition to repeal the death penalty, California is considering another big change on Nov. 6: amending its three-strikes law, Mother Jones reports. If approved, Proposition 36 would only allow hefty sentences to criminals whose third offense is a serious or violent crime. So those convicted of stealing clothes through an open window or a dollar from a parked car—both actual three-strikes crimes—would not have to serve 25 years or more.

Up to 69% of polled Californians back Prop 36, and have many possible reasons: overcrowded prisons, a $28 billion state budget shortfall, a sense of fairness, and support from influential Republicans like Grover Norquist and George Schultz. But opponents note that DAs and judges can already choose not to call a crime a strike. "Prop 36 is kind of like a Pandora's box being opened," says a spokesperson for public safety workers. "These are people with criminal records, and they will prey on the people of California, guaranteed."

Prisoners are handed lunch through a hole in the cafeteria wall at the state prison Thursday, March 3, 2011 in Jackson, Ga.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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