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Families Of Three-Strikes Prisoners Share Hope On Facebook

Derek Belle |
November 9, 2012 | 4:39 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Courtesy of Creative Commons (Rob Shenk)
Courtesy of Creative Commons (Rob Shenk)
For years, California’s three-strikes law was widely considered one of the toughest in the country. After the election, though, the law was amended by Proposition 36, with an overwhelming majority of 68.6 percent of the vote. 

Now that the proposition has passed, many in prison under the three-strikes law can petition courts to reduce their sentences. However, the battle is far from over. There are mountains of paperwork to be dealt with and red tape to be cut through simply for their petitions to be heard in court. 

In fact, a Facebook group was created to provide a forum for friends and families of convicts possibly eligible for release or resentencing to help one another wade through the long and complex legal process.

The posts on this page range from links to Prop 36 tip sheets to updates on the statuses of incarcerated loved ones and records of their experiences with the DA or local police department. While many of them are hopeful, perhaps even optimistic, they realize that Prop 36 is by no means a guarantee that they will have their loved ones returned to them.

The original law, created in 1994 to protect the general public from career criminals, provided that offenders convicted of two violent or serious crimes must receive a sentence of 25 years to life for their third felony offense, regardless of its severity.  The law came under heavy criticism when much publicized cases of petty theft, like stealing pizza or a pair of socks, were given 25-to-life sentences.

The revised version of the law only mandates such sentences for a third violent or serious crime and allows nearly 3,000 convicts currently imprisoned for life under the three-strikes law to petition courts for reduced sentences or out-right release. 

Though this measure was successful, it was not the first attempt at reforming the three-strike law. In 2004, Proposition 66 failed in its pursuit to make a more inclusive change to the law (the scope of Prop 36 excludes heinous offenders such as rapists and murderers) and in 2000, an amendment was made to sentence some nonviolent drug offenders to rehabilitation as opposed to prison terms.

Reach Staff Reporter Derek Belle here.  Follow him on Twitter.



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