This November, not only are we voting for president of the United States. There will be key criminal justice initiatives. Last month I wrote about the ballot initiative to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. Now there will be another criminal justice reform on the ballot: voters will decide whether to modify the three strikes law so that its harshest penalty – 25 years to life without the possibility of parole – is reserved for the most dangerous offenders.
The Three Strikes Law labels certain felonies as “strikes.” Not all felonies are “strikes,” only the most dangerous and serious. So, for example, drug offenses typically do not count as strikes. Under this sentencing scheme, if you commit a “strike” felony with a prior “strike” felony, your prison sentence is doubled. If you have two prior “strike” felonies, however, any felony will get you to the maximum punishment of 25 years to life without the possibility of parole. The ballot proposal to amend the Three Strikes Law will reserve that most drastic punishment for only the most hardened offenders.
I haven’t seen the wording of the ballot initiative yet. But it was apparently prepared by Stanford University law school professors and is backed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. It has even received the support of Los Angeles District Attorney, Steven Cooley.