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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Prop 36 Approved, Opening Doors For Calif. Convicts

Ebony Bailey |
November 7, 2012 | 10:00 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter


For reform advocates, Tuesday was an encouraging day — but they say there's still room for progress. (Ebony Bailey/Neon Tommy)
For reform advocates, Tuesday was an encouraging day — but they say there's still room for progress. (Ebony Bailey/Neon Tommy)
For the first time in 17 years, Clare Fox may have a chance to see her brother outside of a prison cell. 

Her brother, Jeffrey Greene, is serving life in prison under the California three-strikes law. Proposition 36, which was approved by California voters Tuesday, will mean he may have a chance to be released. 

“I can’t stop crying because he’s getting another chance to come home,” Fox said.

Under Prop. 36, about 3,000 convicted felons in the state serving life terms, whose third conviction was for a non-violent crime, are now eligible to petition to the court for a shorter sentence. 

Fox traveled from Northern California to attend a viewing party in Inglewood hosted by Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes on election night. Some 70 people gathered to watch the results, specifically those of Prop. 36.

“The people who are here tonight have been fighting vigorously to get their loved ones out,” said Gayle Blackwell, former director of operations at FACTS. 

Jeffrey Greene was sent to prison after he stole a sweater, Fox said. His felony convictions previous to that were robberies, she explained, and none of his crimes were violent. 

“No one was hurt, killed — nothing,” she said. “He had a drug addiction and he was feeding that addiction through his robberies.”

Until last weekend, Fox hadn't seen her brother since before he was sentenced to prison. 

“He’s in his cell right now and tears are falling down his face,” he said. 

In 2004, California voters rejected Prop. 66, which also proposed to amend the three-strikes law. According to Geri Silva, founder of FACTS, the proposition received wide support from voters until then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger launched a last-minute attack ad campaign. 

“This is a victory that took 16 years of fighting from us,” Silva said. FACTS was founded in 1996 two years after the three-strikes policy was approved. “It’s an awful law and this prop just took a bite out of it.”

Claudia Marriott’s son was sentenced to prison 17 years ago, right after the three-strikes law was approved. According to his mother, he was accused of stealing a truck he borrowed from a friend. 

“I know he’s crying and screaming right now,” Marriott said. “I’ve been waiting for this for too long.”

After the fate of Prop. 36 was called by members of media Tuesday, advocates and family members at the party took to the mic set up on stage. 

“These kinds of laws, they’re a thing of the past,” Luis Garcia said to a crowd, referring to the three-strikes law. “This is the beginning of change.”

For Silva and the rest of FACTS, Prop. 36 will not be their last push in amending the three-strikes law. Silva’s strategy in moving forward will depend on the effects of Prop. 36. 

“I definitely feel good, but it’s bittersweet,” she said. “It’s good, but it’s not enough.”

Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of Prop. 36 here


Reach Staff Reporter Ebony Bailey here.



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