Vote no on Proposition 36
October 9, 2012
OPINION By LESLIE HALLS
Proposition 36 would revise the current Three Strikes law and would allow current convicted felons serving 25-life under Three Strikes to petition for a reduced sentence.
The Three Strikes law was passed in 1994 and shortly after its passage, crime in California dropped significantly and has remained at lower levels. Violent crimes have decreased by 18 percent and homicide decreased by 31 percent since Three Strikes’ inception. Prop 36 would modify the three strikes law to impose life sentence only when the new felony conviction is “serious or violent.”
Proponents of Prop 36 say that this would “make room for dangerous felons,” but the truth is only 6.6 percent of all prisoners in California are these “third strikers.” These are criminals so dangerous they are serving 25 to life sentences as charged by a District Attorney, as convicted by a jury, as imposed by a judge, and whose legal appeals have been denied.
As the widow of a former district attorney in Plumas County, I know it is very difficult to get felony convictions for murder. There is a tendency to plea bargain to a lesser crime and this automatically becomes a “conviction” for the district attorney’s office. It is regrettably an efficiency measure, because the courts are so clogged with cases.
There are some people who should never ever be let out. If the threat of punishment under Three Strikes has not been a deterrent, then perhaps keeping this 6.6 percent of the prison population incarcerated is a factor in reducing violent crime so substantially.
“If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Vote no on Proposition 36.
Leslie Halls is a San Luis Obispo resident and the director of the San Luis Obispo County Builders Exchange.