Cash-strapped Californians would rather ease “third-strike” penalties for some criminals and accept felons as neighbors than dig deeper into their pockets to relieve prison overcrowding, says a Los Angeles Times survey. After a court order that the state move more than 33,000 inmates out of its packed prisons, an overwhelming number of voters oppose higher taxes — as well as cuts in key state services — to pay for more lockup space.
The survey, done by the Times and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, shows a clear shift in attitude by residents forced to confront the cost of tough sentencing laws passed in recent decades. The ailing economy far outweighs crime as the top concern for most people today, the pollsters said. That, along with the court order, could help explain voters’ new receptivity to changes long sought by prisoner-rights advocates. More than 60 percent of respondents said they would support reducing life sentences for third strike offenders convicted of property crimes such as burglary, auto theft and shoplifting; nearly 70 percent said they would sanction the early release of some low-level offenders whose crimes did not involve violence.
ED NOTE: For recent articles and information on California’s Three Strikes Law, click here.