In 1994, California voters enacted the “Three Strikes and You're Out” law in response to the tragic murders of Kimber Reynolds and Polly Klass. The law imposed a life sentence for almost any crime, no matter how minor, if the defendant had two prior convictions for crimes defined as serious or violent by the California Penal Code.
According to official ballot materials promoting the original Three Strikes law, the sentencing scheme was intended to “keep murders, rapists, and child molesters behind bars, where they belong.” However, today, more than half of inmates sentenced under the law are serving sentences for nonviolent crimes. In 2012 - California voters made the decision to reduce the penalties for nonviolent criminals. Learn more below.
Proposition 36, a Change in the "Three Strikes Law" Initiative, was on the November 6, 2012 ballot as an initiated state statute , where it was approved.
Proposition 36 modifies elements of California's "Three Strikes" Law , which was approved by the state's voters in 1994. In 2004, voters rejected Proposition 66 , which like the 2012 measure was an attempt to change some aspects of the original "Three Strikes" Law
Altogether, about 8,800 prisoners are currently serving life terms in California prisons under the 1994 law. 24 states have a "Three Strikes"-type law.
Three Strikes Law - The Basics
November 2012 Ballot Initiative - Prop 36
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Reform of the Three Strikes Law
The Committee for Three Strikes Reform
California Criminal Law Observer
What cultural and social factors does Alexander describe that cause Americans to deny the fact of the biased nature of mass incarceration against people of color? How does this denial benefit or harm society?
How do ballot initiatives like Prop 36 relate to the arguments made in The New Jim Crow.
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1/8/2015 05:18:12 am
In chapter two, under “Timed Served”, Michelle Alexander writes about California’s “Three-Strikes” law. A common aspect is represented in each of her examples of people who are serving life sentences for minor crimes; they are all poor and titled as fugitives that can no longer attain jobs, and their final options are stealing or drug dealing for sources of income. These are minor, non-violent crimes people are serving lifetime sentences for.
1/8/2015 06:55:16 am
I like how you used a detailed scenario to demonstrate everyday prejudice and stereotyping that minority races face by the police department. Granted since a scenario like this is a method of covert discrimination, those who do not actually experience it, do not understand how much of a problem it is; they may hear of its occurrence, but have no idea just how constant and routine it is. As we discussed in class, those who are most often heckled by the police are less likely to be carrying drugs than those who the police lets drive by. This causes a racially and socioeconomically imbalanced ratio between those who are incarcerated, and those who walk free.
1/8/2015 03:10:51 pm
Great point I definitely agree that people of color had committed nonviolent crimes but were serving lifetime sentences. Despite the fact that most nonviolent crimes been committed by marijuana sales or minor things like that. During 1994 President Clinton signed a bill requiring a life sentence for the third conviction for any of many federal crimes. “Three strikes and you’re out” laws were passed in many states, the first of which was Washington State. In Washington State, Blacks are only 3.5% of the population, but 40% of three- strike prisoners.
1/8/2015 02:31:07 pm
The idea of policing in poor areas is one reason, because when we talk about poor is in general we speak of minority and people of color. The chance of a person with political powers with many influence living in poor areas are less, which can be used as a green light to do pretty much everything at their discretion.
1/8/2015 02:51:05 pm
Fay, you forgot to answer part 2, you might want to put your glasses on!
1/8/2015 03:50:43 pm
I definitely agree with you Fay. Like you mentioned, the poor are POOR, they lack money. Therefore, when they are charged "fees" they are put into dept. So now on top of being labeled a felon and unable to qualify for jobs, the poor owe the government, or the city money. The cycle never ends. It seems almost like these laws have "plan B's" to keep the poor poor, and discriminated against.
1/8/2015 03:05:17 pm
Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness was a whole system where fictional drama and victimization was build. A mentality was constructed that we needed to keep the streets safe. That dangerous criminals where supposed to be kept in prisons and jails. Many people were convicted for nonviolent crimes. Most people didn’t have right to an attorney. Police often stop and search anyone but mainly people of color. They might not have probable cause but it is always the “criminals” word against the police officer. Police always find a way or an excuse to build probable cause and aren't disciplines for their racist actions. There are about 25 states that have the 3 strikes law. It is intriguing to find out that the states that practice prop 36 and the states that don’t approve prop 36 have approximately the similar level of crime rate and don’t spend a dime on prop 36.
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