“Yes” on Proposition 36, the “Three Strikes Reform Act”
By Steve Cooley, George Gascon and David Mills
The Three Strikes Reform Act, Proposition 36, is supported by a broad bipartisan coalition of law enforcement leaders, civil rights organizations and taxpayer advocates because it will:
1) Make the punishment fit the crime
Precious financial and law enforcement resources should not be improperly diverted to impose life sentences for some non-violent offenses. Proposition 36 will assure that violent repeat offenders are punished and not released early.
2) Save California Over $100 million every year
Taxpayers could save over $100 million per year—money that can be used to fund schools, fight crime and reduce the state’s deficit. The Three Strikes law will continue to punish dangerous career criminals who commit serious violent crimes —keeping them off the streets for 25 years to life.
3) Make room in prison for dangerous felons
Proposition 36 will help stop clogging overcrowded prisons with non-violent offenders, so we have room to keep violent felons off the streets.
4) Help law enforcement
Prosecutors, judges and police officers support Proposition 36 because it helps ensure that prisons can keep dangerous criminals behind bars for life. Proposition 36 will keep dangerous criminals off the streets.
5) Benefit Taxpayers
Proposition 36 could save $100 million every year. Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform says, “The Three Strikes Reform Act is tough on crime without being tough on taxpayers. It will put a stop to needlessly wasting hundreds of millions in taxpayers’ hard-earned money, while protecting people from violent crime.” The California State Auditor projects that taxpayers will pay millions to house and pay health care costs for non-violent Three Strikes inmates if the law is not changed. Proposition 36 will save taxpayers’ money.
6) Be tough and smart on crime
Criminal justice experts and law enforcement leaders carefully crafted Prop. 36 so that truly dangerous criminals will receive no benefits whatsoever from the reform. Repeat criminals will get life in prison for serious or violent third strike crimes. Repeat offenders of non-violent crimes will get more than double the ordinary sentence. Any defendant who has ever been convicted of an extremely violent crime—such as rape, murder, or child molestation—will receive a 25 to life sentence, no matter how minor their third strike offense.
With passage of Proposition 36, California will retain the toughest recidivist Three Strikes law in the country but will be fairer by emphasizing proportionality in sentencing and will provide for more evenhanded application of this important law. Learn more at FixThreeStrikes.org.
Cooley is the Los Angeles County District Attorney. Gascon is San Francisco’s district attorney. Mills is a Stanford Law School professor.
Opposition arguments can be found at “Save Three Strikes”
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