November 01, 2012
By Assemblymember Mike Davis
Anyone who tells you that the Three Strikes law in California should be credited for reducing or controlling violent crime is mistaken.
In fact, studies show that there is no correlation between Three Strike imprisonments and a drop in crime rates or recidivism. Counties that are inflexible about implementing the Three Strikes law saw an increase in violent crimes as compared to counties that have not been so strict.
Furthermore, national crime trends show states without the Three Strikes law have exhibited a drop in crime since the early 1990s.
So why not reform the Three Strikes law?
Mike Reynolds, the author of the Three Strikes law that passed in 1994, says that passing Prop. 36 would weaken it.
Not true. Prop. 36 is a modest reform to our current Three Strikes law. The law will continue to empower prosecutors to put violent repeat offenders in prison for life and sentence nonviolent offenders twice the ordinary prison term.
More importantly, as it was originally intended, crimes such as rape, murder and child molestation will not receive any benefit from the passage of Prop. 36. And, no prisoner will be released without resentencing in front of the judge.
Prop. 36 will make sure that the punishment fits the crime, so that precious financial resources are used effectively to impose life sentences for violent criminals. At this very moment, dangerous criminals are being released early from prison because jails are clogged up with non-violent offenders. We have to make more room in our prisons for violent criminals.
Prop. 36 was drafted by professors at Stanford Law School in conjunction with law leaders in California and lawyers at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. It is based on policy that was implemented by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley. Other law enforcement leaders, professors, civil rights leaders and taxpayer advocates are supporting the proposition because the law today is costly, ineffective and unfair.
And as Assemblymember, I work hard to find ways to reduce our state budget deficit each year. It makes perfect sense to reform the law so that California saves upwards of $100 million dollars every year by making this modest reform.
Furthermore, three strikes reform in California will put our state in concert with the 22 other states in the country that have three strikes policies which require a violent and serious offense for every offense including the third strike. This is a just and fair policy.
So Vote Yes on Prop 36 because it is smart, fair and just.