In the Middle Ages one would be thrown in the dungeon for years just for stealing a loaf of bread. In some Third World countries today you would get your hand cut off for a similar offense.
In this modern age, in this beautiful state we call the Golden State, the gold has been tarnished. We are no different than people in the Middle Ages or Third World countries because, if you steal a loaf of bread today, the state of California could put you in prison for life and throw away the key.
Proposition 36 will do what Proposition 184, the three strikes law, intended to do back in 1994 when it was passed. Proposition 184 was sold and packaged as a method for keeping repeat violent criminals behind bars for life after committing three “violent” or “serious” offenses. It was in response to the public outcry of the kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaus.
Without doubt, violent repeat offenders should be kept behind bars for life and Proposition 36 will still ensure that rapists, murderers and all other repeat violent criminals stay in prison for life. But, Proposition 36 would stop the illogical and unreasonable practice of imposing life sentences for extraordinarily minor third-strike offenses like stealing a loaf of bread or a pair of socks. If this isn’t cruel and unusual punishment, I don’t know what is.
The state of California is the only state in the nation that allows for a life sentence for a non-violent felony on a third strike.
A survey conducted by The Three Strikes Project at Stanford Law School showed that more than 4,000 inmates in California are serving life sentences for nonviolent offenses under the current three strikes law. It costs the state of California over $100 million a year to house these offenders, money that could be used elsewhere, for education perhaps.
On Nov. 6 Californians can right a wrong they made in 1994 and vote yes on Proposition 36.