Prediction: Passage of CA 3-Strikes Reform Could Prompt Other States To Act


California Watch explores next week’s vote on state Proposition 36, which seeks to reform the state's three strikes law. The law allows life sentences for repeat offenders, regardless of the severity of their crimes. Advocates of the initiative say reform will save taxpayers millions, while opponents argue that the law keeps communities safe. Adam Gelb of the Pew Center on the States says that about half the states have done some fairly significant changes to their sentencing laws and policies that affect who goes in and how long they stay. If California does this, states “may be willing to revisit what they’ve done and maybe go a little further, and the other half of the states that haven't broached this issue in a serious way yet probably are going to say, ‘Maybe now it’s time.’ “

Opponents of the measure counter that public safety is worth the price. Says one of them, Carl Adams, “We want to remove the worst offenders from society for the sake of our communities, and we want to do it no matter what it costs, and we want to do it no matter what the impact is on prison population. The three strikes law hasn't changed since it was enacted. And I don't think that public attitudes about wanting safe communities has changed at all.”

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