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.


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21 Comments

  1. mazzy100 says:

    This might be a good opportunity to change a law that was well intentioned but that had become both unfair and very expensive.

    (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  2. mazzy100 says:

    Just to confirm this is a very conservative ‘narrowing’ of the Three Strikes Law, and WILL NOT be letting out dangerous criminals. Also ALL current prisoners who become eligable for release under this will ALL have to be RE-SENTENCED in front fo a judge and looked at as an individual. VOTE FOR THIS AND DO THE RIGHT THING.

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  3. Slowerfaster says:

    I say, get rid of the ridiculous compounding …that only leads law enforcement to create multiple charges for the same crime, and D.A.s to overcharge…. especially with indigent or unwealthy defendants.
    Instead, I would advocate for “truth in sentencing” ; where every convicted felon would face the FULL penalty as prescibed by law.
    Early release would be eliminated. Parole would be greatly reduced.

    (0) 10 Total Votes - 5 up - 5 down
  4. bobfromsanluis says:

    The whole “three strikes” approach of locking up people for years and years has always troubled me; if a person is a violent repeat offender, I see no problem giving them a long sentence to keep them out of society. The problem is when a person does something rather stupid, but isn’t really on a felony level; is it possible that sending that person to prison for a long time will eliminate the possibility of them re-offending on a felony level? Sure, but it is not a “given”; individual history of each person and the seriousness of the crime should be factors in considering an appropriate sentence. I honestly believe that a large part of the problem of over crowding in our prisons is the inflexibility of mandatory sentencing. Given the current costs of incarcerating the sheer numbers of prisoners California has, I cannot imagine how anyone can vote against this initiative. Too many prosecutors have been much too zealous in trying to put non-violent offenders away to show how “tough on crime” they are so they can move up the chain of command trying to become a District Attorney and possibly a future judge. The prison industry has always liked the three strikes law as a means of keeping full employment for the correctional officers as well as all of the overtime pay they can earn. Everyone knows California has a budget problem, let’s start trimming some real costs in our correctional industry, um, prisons, without compromising on safety.

    (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
  5. rogerfreberg says:

    oh, I think one strike is enough for me…

    (-2) 14 Total Votes - 6 up - 8 down
    • Slowerfaster says:

      Yeah…one strike is all you ever swing at ( and typically miss while looking like a windmill ).
      Good Ole One Strike Woger !
      He’s just like Punxsatawney Phil on Groundhog Day that see’s his shadow and runs back in his hole.

      Hey Woger… BOO!

      (-6) 16 Total Votes - 5 up - 11 down
      • Ted Slanders says:

        Brother SF,

        Even though Roger makes feeble attempts with his “one post wonders”, and then runs back to his safe haven to frightfully contemplate his next one post move, he is this forum’s “one post mascot” and we should respect that! Roger has found his niche.

        Subjectively, Rogers’ MO is indicative of being the product of a public school system instead of a more astute religious Christian school. It’s sad that not everyone can have our parochial upbringing.

        (-2) 8 Total Votes - 3 up - 5 down
  6. shelworth says:

    I’m 54 and I have no criminal record. I didn’t have to try not to commit any crimes. I don’t have much sympathy for anyone who knows they have 2 strikes against them already, and goes over to some kids and says “give me your pizza or I’ll kick your asses”. That person doesn’t need to live with the rest of us.

    (1) 11 Total Votes - 6 up - 5 down
  7. Ted Slanders says:

    What don’t people understand about the law that states; “three felony strikes and you’re out?”

    Jerry Dewayne Williams took a chance that he shouldn’t have even thought about because of his prior convictions for robbery, attempted robbery, drug possession and unauthorized use of a vehicle. He made his bed, let him sleep in it!

    We’ve had enough of crime, and enough of coddling the criminal faction. Bill boards should be strewn about the state letting the criminal know firsthand in how California deals with felony crime, period!

    Jerry Williams can thank California that he wasn’t under biblical law instead of man’s law! Incorrigible and rebelliousness people like Jerry’s actions was punishable by death (Deuteronomy 17:12). For example, a stubborn, disobedient, rebellious son who would not submit to parents or civil authorities was to be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).

    If we got back to true biblical principles, California would even be a safer place without crime, praise Jesus!

    (-5) 25 Total Votes - 10 up - 15 down
    • Cindy says:

      Since when is stealing a slice of peperoni pizza a felony?

      (-1) 17 Total Votes - 8 up - 9 down
      • Ted Slanders says:

        Cindy,

        When are you ever going to learn not to question Brother Ted? Huh?

        While petty theft is typically a misdemeanor charge, Williams’ earlier convictions allowed the State’s prosecutors to upgrade the pizza incident to a felony charge. Under the state’s three strikes law, two of the other crimes he committed – robbery and attempted robbery – were serious felonies that made Williams liable to a sentence of 25 years to life on his next serious conviction. Petty theft of stealing a piece of pizza is included in that category.

        Now, get back to your Christian womanly duties. Thank you.

        (-7) 25 Total Votes - 9 up - 16 down
        • BeenThereDoneThat says:

          Ted, I don’t like felons at all and have little tolerance for crime BUT I also don’t want to spend THOUSANDS a year to house someone who stole a piece of pizza. Yes thou shall not steal but I don’t think we should have to spend 50 grand a year to house someone who stole a two dollar piece of pizza. That is just plain INSANITY!!!

          (13) 21 Total Votes - 17 up - 4 down
          • Ted Slanders says:

            BTDT,

            Then let us go back to the simple biblical laws concerning the act of stealing if you don’t want to pay for this individual’s time in prison!

            As I’ve stated earlier, one who would not submit to civil authorities, or was disobediant, was to be stoned to death as the Christian God proposes. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). In this way, we hit two birds with one stone! Get it?

            Do you see why we should be under biblical law? Sure you do.

            (-7) 17 Total Votes - 5 up - 12 down
            • BeenThereDoneThat says:

              O.k. fine submit to the parent or authority. Then after that have the parent or authority decide what is or isn’t reasonable puninshment. Oh I guess that puts us right back to where I suggested.

              (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
            • Kettel says:

              We already tried that, we still have the wicked people (but no frost giants).

              So no on the biblical, sharia or “spin the wheel of punishment” law.

              Now that we have IPv6 we can have ip address’s, rfid chips and bar codes for everyone.

              (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
      • shelworth says:

        When you strong arm little kids to get it.

        (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
    • Frank Courser says:

      Ted, Thousands of those struck out had priors that were decades before Three Strikes was ever enacted! These people woke March 1994 facing a life sentence for misdemeanor crimes such as simple drug possession, shoplifting or receiving stolen property! The DA’s call these wobbler crimes. They can apply them either as felonies or misdemeanors. Unless they had legal training, they like most voters had no idea the law would be applied to these petty crimes. The ads paid for and produced by the prison guards said it would put away those that murder,rape,or molest children! Never did it say it would sweep drug users,shoplifters, or pizza thieves.! And thanks to separation of church and state, judges don’t look up biblical history when sentencing. They use state Penal Code 1192.7 and 667. The public never told juvenile strikes would be used as young as 16-17 years of age. The public had no idea the law would cost 19.2 billion dollars, another unfunded mandate used wildly by DA’s to win convictions! The law is in two parts those with one prior felony then commit any wobbler crime get double the sentence. Those with 2 prior felonies such as burglary of a garage or even a storage shed qualify for a 25 year to life sentence! Today’s cost $1.25 million dollars for each and every one! It’s poor public policy and does not make us any safer. 1/2 the states in the nation don’t have this law yet enjoyed the same drop in crime! This initiative won’t allow the release of anyone who has murdered,raped or molested children, it will save tax payers $100-150 million dollars each year! It certainly will get a yes vote from me!

      (15) 17 Total Votes - 16 up - 1 down
      • Cindy says:

        I had no idea that the law was being applied like that. It literally seems like this law has allowed the government to turn on its own people as that law was never intended to be applied this way and what really is sickening is watching over zealous DA’s try to make a name for themselves by locking up people who they know are not dangerous for 25 to life. Often times, they know that a jury would not vote guilty if they knew the sentence so they don’t allow a jury to know what a sentence might be in many of those cases.

        I say, the 3 strikes law doesn’t work, it is a bad law that has been abused. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1000 times. It seems that when we make laws or give our government any leeway, no matter the good intentions, they always abuse it.

        (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
      • Ted Slanders says:

        Frank,

        First off, when one is a Christian, we have to follow bibilcal principles. 2+2=4. Christians do not have the authority to pick and choose their bible verses, principles, and doctrine. They either accept the whole bible, or they discard same. Get it? It’s like telling the DMV that you’re only going to follow some of the vehicle laws of California, and discard the rest.

        “And thanks to separation of church and state, judges don’t look up biblical history when sentencing.”

        They most certainly have you place your right hand upon the Hebrew/Christian Bible to tell the truth, so help you GOD (the Christian God in this instance), therefore acknowledging the contents therein which include biblical principles mentioned earlier!

        If killing a person for being unruly in society was good enough for the Hebrew, and then later, the Christian God, then it’s good enough to continue this tradition at the present time! If one is a Christian, who in the hell are they to usurp this God’s words in this respect as biblically shown earlier in the posts above?!

        I don’t care how much it costs, they’re off the streets and let it be a lesson for others to see and to follow! Like I said, California should have bill boards placed everywhere with Jerry Williams crime against society as being an example of what will happen to them if they step across the line!

        No more namby pamby rudy poo coddling of the criminal element in our society, throw em in prison, no matter if it’s for a pizza slice, or some other offense, if they priors, the hell with them! If we were more like Turkey, or any Islamic country, Jerry’s first offense would have had his hands cut off! What do we do? We let Jerry commit two other crimes before he got sent up the river. He had his chance, and he blew it! Get it?

        Enough is enough, and the Hebrew/Christian God is on the side of the Christians on this topic, and praise His revengeful nature!

        (-3) 5 Total Votes - 1 up - 4 down
        • Frank Courser says:

          Ted, the majority of the world are not Christians! Get it? And when were you last in a court room? They no longer swear people in using a bible! You are simply asked to swear to tell the truth. The penalty of perjury is enough! And Ted since you don’t care how much it cost, please send a check to the state for $19.2 billion dollars,because most of us do care! I also think it would be instructive if you were you visit a prison in California and see just how coddling CDCR is in treating inmates! Check out the SHU, perhaps they would let you stay a day or two? And Ted you might actually read the bible, that would help! ” His revengeful nature”?? And put down the crack pipe!! That’s crazy talk!

          (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  8. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    Yea when the pizza one happened, it KILLED me like it did others. Right idea but wrong follow through by a bunch of dumb judges that got the letter of the law and spirit of the law confused.

    (7) 15 Total Votes - 11 up - 4 down

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