Todd Spizter went off on Prop. 36, the measure to reform Three Strikes, today on his Facebook page: “As the State-Wide Co-Chair of the No on Prop. 36 Three Strikes Initiative I can tell you unequivocally that the Three Strikes Law as presently written is working well. Under the law, the prosecutor maintains discretion on whether or not to file the Third Strike as eligible for 25 to Life and the Judge can disagree with the recommendation of the prosecutor and not impose it after weighing the record. In other words, there is currently sufficient checks and balances. Our communities have never been safer since the imposition of Three Strikes.”
Has Three Strikes really reduced crime, or is Spitzer full of B.S.? “Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who put a policy in place that mirrors Prop. 36’s provisions when he took office in 2000. Violent crime in his county has dropped 43 percent in his first nine years in office while the statewide reduction over that period was 26 percent,” according to the O.C. Register.
So no, Three Strikes isn’t reducing crime. What about those prosecutors Spitzer gloated about? Are they really showing discretion in Three Strikes cases? What about the Judges? Remember that the prosecutors work for politicians – District Attorneys. Consider this botched Three Strikes case, referenced by the O.C. Register:
Shane Taylor is the type of guy who shouldn’t be in jail, according those who want to revise the state’s “three strikes” sentencing law. His first two strikes were burglaries where the only thing reported stolen was a checkbook, according to court filings. One check had been forged. His third strike came nearly eight years later, when police found 0.14 grams of methamphetamine in his wallet. The judge had the discretion to sentence Taylor to a lesser stint but chose to categorize Taylor as a third-striker, which mandates a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
Spitzer is of course totally wrong, as usual. But even worse, Three Strikes has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars! Consider this info, from the O.C. Register:
“The nonpartisan Legislative Analysts Office estimates the passage of Prop. 36 would save $70 million a year because of reduced inmate population and because some state parolees would instead be overseen by county probation departments. Proponents of the measure argue that expenses associated with non-serious, nonviolent third strikes should never have been incurred in the first place.”
Our prisons are full. Our prison guards are overpaid. And Three Strikes isn’t reducing crime. Isn’t it time to reform it?
Here are the facts about Prop. 36 that Spitzer won’t tell you about:
- Prop. 36 restores the original intent of the Three Strikes law by requiring that life sentences be imposed for serious or violent crimes.
- Repeat offenders who commit minor, non-violent crimes will receive double the ordinary sentence instead of life.
- Inmates currently serving life sentences for non-serious, non-violent crimes can apply for a new sentence, but the sentence can only be reduced if a judge determines that they are no longer an unreasonable threat to public safety.
- No rapists, murders, or child molesters will benefit from Prop. 36. The initiative includes a safety clause that prohibits anyone who has past convictions for very violent crimes from receiving any benefit of the change in law, no matter how minor the defendant’s third strike offense.
- Prop. 36 does not change the definition of burglary or alter the list of serious or violent crimes. Nor does Prop. 36 have any impact on so-called “second strike” sentences.
- The non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office projects that the Reform Act may save the state over $70-100 million annually.
I will be voting for Prop. 36 on Nov. 6.