By: Daniel Tjosvold, Law Clerk at the Law Offices of Stephen G. Cline**
The Proposition 36 amendment to the “three strikes law” is assuring more hope for criminal defendants in the state of California— that they need not worry about committing small offenses and potentially face a lifetime in prison. Prior to its enactment in 2012, criminals with a history of two prior serious and violent felony convictions had to cope with the fact that just one future non-serious crime could land them back in prison for the rest of their lives. Proposition 36 assures that the “third-strike” must qualify as another serious, violent felony in order to subject these defendants to a lifetime prison sentence.
Proposition 36 does not apply to criminals whose prior history involves convictions of rape, murder, or child molestation. In addition, third-strike offenders are still subject to life sentences for non-serious or non-violent sex or drug offenses or those that involve firearm possession. Hence, Proposition 36 will restore the original purpose of the “three strikes law.” It will ensure that the only the most habitual violent criminals will be subject to life sentences for their repeated violation of the law, and the more non-violent criminals will not be subject to such harsh punishment.
It is important to acknowledge that some citizens with violent criminal histories can be reformed. And when they are, they want to put their crimes behind them and live a more honest lifestyle as if they have a clean slate. For example, in the unconstitutionally crowded prison system in California, over 1,000 prisoners serving life sentences for third-strike crimes such as petty theft or drug possession have been released in California since the enactment of Proposition 36. Less than two percent of these released inmates have been charged with a new crime since their release. Without Proposition 36, these rehabilitated citizens would be constantly apprehensive that even the slightest slip-up with the law would subject them to practically the harshest punishment possible. It’s these kind of offenders who would pay the ultimate price and suffer the injustices of the three-strikes law if the amendments of Proposition 36 were not in place. So in a sense, rehabilitated citizens would be feeling the effects of their crimes for the rest of their lives.
The pros of Proposition 36 outweigh the cons. The “three strikes law” was meant to ensure that the most violent criminals are permanently removed from society. The newly enacted Proposition 36 restores the original purpose of the “three strikes law” and ensures greater justice for rehabilitated criminals.
Attorney Stephen G. Cline has been practicing San Diego criminal defense for 20 years. His reputation and experience will be the key to the aggressive defense of your San Diego criminal case. Call today at (619) 235-5638 to review your specific case!
**This post has been submitted by a guest author interning with the Law Offices of Stephen G. Cline. Mr. Cline believes in giving back to the industry and sharing his knowledge and experience by mentoring third year law students through clinical internships with California Western School of Law. While the opinions expressed are that of the author, Mr. Cline has reviewed and approved this post.
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