If California voters approve changes to the “three strikes” sentencing law next month, “People are going to be raped; children are going to be molested,” said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “This is going to be awful.” The Orange County Register says 26,000 criminals would be released from prison under Proposition 66, according to figures cited by Rackauckas, assemblymen Todd Spitzer and Ken Maddox, and Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters. The number was called a flagrant lie by Proposition 66 supporters, because only 7,000 people are in prison for third-strike offenses. The Register says the 26,000 number includes second strikers, who may or may not be subject to its provisions, depending on who you ask.
Prop 66 would require that a third strike and its 25-years-to-life sentence apply only to violent or serious felonies like rape, robbery or murder. Now, third strikes can be triggered by non-violent crimes like drug possession or shoplifting. Supporters argue that is not what voters intended when they approved three strikes in 1994. Opponents say the law is one reason California’s crime rate has dropped steeply. “Should the third strike be a serious or violent felony? The answer is, absolutely not,” Spitzer said. “These are graduates of the criminal-justice system. It’s ‘three strikes, you’re out’ because you have two prior serious or violent felonies and you’ve shown you have no responsibility to your community.”