Voters to ponder three-strikes law
June 12, 2012
Should California’s sometimes-controversial “Three-Strikes Law” be modified? Voters in November will have a say in the law’s future following qualification of a initiative that would ostensibly reduce the number of convictions.
If endorsed by voters, the initiative would change the sentencing law to include only offenders convicted of a violent or serious felony as a “third strike.”
Those individuals would remain eligible for the the minimum sentence of 25 years to life.
Another provision of the proposed initiative would allow some people convicted under the current law to seek re-sentencing if their third-strike was only a minor crime.
Critics for years have assailed the law because aggressive prosecutors in numerous high-profile cases have won convictions under its provisions for minor third-strike offenses. One case in Redondo Beach involved a man who was sentenced to life in prison for stealing a slice of pizza.
Jerry Dewayne Williams snatched the pepperoni pizza slice at a Redondo Pier restaurant from a table where a group of children sat. The three-strike law was brand new, and as a result Williams became one of the first, and to this day one of the most notorious, prosecutions under the law. That was in 2000.
Williams served five years of his sentence, but his polarizing case is still noted as an “iconic symbol in the political and ideological battle over California’s push to get tough on crime,” according to a 2010 article in the Los Angeles Times.
And Williams, who lives in Moreno Valley, remains one of 14,000 felons in California who face the three-strikes sentence for any future transgression.