Today the Fresno and Sacramento Bee newspapers came out against Prop 47, saying it goes too far too soon. That, is an understatement. Read the Bee’s editorial opinion.
PROPOSITION 47 AND 3 STRIKES The simple overview sums up Prop. 47 as reducing approximately 400 offenses on the California felony list to only misdemeanors when the amount of the loss is less than $950. It then would require time to be served as 1 year or less in county jail. This, of course, is subject to 50% “good time” credits. There is, however, a more damaging aspect to California’s 3 Strikes law that goes beyond the impact of Prop. 36. Prop. 36 reduced all third strikes that were not serious or violent to second strike status requiring that the penalty for the non serious or violent felony be doubled and 80% of the time be served in “state prison.” Now many offenders walking our streets with strikes are facing second strike penalties if they commit a new felony. Continue reading …
Gov. Jerry Brown’s prison reforms haven’t lived up to his billing. Although Jerry Brown claims the so-called prison crisis is over, today, California is spending nearly $2 billion a year more on incarceration than when Brown introduced his strategy in 2011. The prisons are still overcrowded, and the state has been forced to release inmates early to satisfy federal judges overseeing the system. Counties, given custody of more than 142,000 felons so far, complain that the state isn’t paying full freight for their supervision. Many jails are now overcrowded, and tens of thousands of criminals have been freed to make room for more. This development elicited some remarks by Mike Reynolds. Read “Realignment to Nowhere.”
Recently released, the Preliminary FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2012 shows marked increases for all categories of crime throughout California. Keep in mind that the 2012 data are for only 6 months.
In 1995 this was BIG NEWS. In fact, it was apparent to Three Strikes most vocal critiques, among them the editors of this paper in which this article ran. View the article as it appeared on that day in 1995.
In light of the recent introduction of an initiative to greatly weaken 3 Strikes by a Stanford Law professor, you would think that a Bay Area Law School would be the last place you would expect to find a positive review on 3 Strikes.
When the Mennonites from Canada brought the “Restorative Justice” concept into New England in the 1970s, it was based on a concept of “restoration and restitution” to victims of crime by offenders who felt “true remorse” for what they had done.
What it has become is a catch phrase for no responsibility for your actions.
The only true regret by these offenders, juvenile or adult, is being caught and being held responsible. When that is removed we have sent the wrong message to our youth who are trying to find the acceptable limits of their conduct.
Once again we are seeing the word “justice” hijacked to front for a political agenda.
This article prompted the above remarks, Fresno Unified’s JEY program worked wonders with discipline, originally appearing in the Jan 20, Fresno Bee.
See also this related article, by a 2016 Bullard High School graduate as he relates his personal experiences at school, “Read the most powerful graduation speech that will never be given.”
by Mike Reynolds
Like I’m so surprised that the savings projected from Prop 47 has not happened.
Changes in California policies were causing increased crime virtually everywhere within his jurisdiction. Reinforcing the perspective of other Sheriffs across the state. The Governor signed AB109 into law in 2011, the Los Angeles county jail, which was designed to house minor offenders serving one year or less, has been filling up with hardened repeat felons no longer eligible for prison, some serving over 10 years. Moving state inmates to serve their time in local jails has had the effect of Sheriffs having to release their local inmates whose sentence was less than a year to make room for Governor Brown’s AB109 inmate transfers.
STATE POLICIES INCREASING CRIME
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell told guests of the Foundation’s June 1 annual meeting that changes in California policies were causing increased crime virtually everywhere within his jurisdiction. Reinforcing the perspective of other Sheriffs across the state, Sheriff McDonnell cited the Governor’s Realignment Law (AB109), Proposition 36 (which weakened the Three Strikes law), and Proposition 47 (which converted property and drug felonies to misdemeanors) as the reason criminals are being cycled back into communities to commit more crimes. Read more …
Response to Dan Walters article, March 13
To a reporter I don’t always agree with, “good going, Dan.” This shows what we have professed for a long time: fewer inmates does not equal saved state money. Cruise ships, hotels, hospitals and prisons, as well as many more, cost the same to operate full or empty. That cost is simply divided among fewer people making the inmate expense per year become larger. If its costing an extra $2 billion per year to relocate these inmates to county jails you could build all the prison space you need with just 2 years costs of this program being redirected to new housing. After all, there is AB900 that has passed but yet to be implemented. Also note: no cost consideration has been assigned to the major crime increases that are now following this vast experiment in forgiveness that California and Jerry Brown has embarked upon.
The Washington Post’s Rob Kuznia wrote an article, “An Unprecedented Experiment in Mass Forgiveness,” Feb. 8. Only a very few journalists actually understand the domestic terrorism that has resulted since that time. Mr. Kuznia is not one of them. Mike Reynolds remarks are fact related and necessary to understand how we got where we currently are. Hint: we’ve been here before.
The California State Senate and House Public Safety and Appropriation Committees do not appear to have the public’s safety in mind. Various pieces of legislation to correct very serious shortcomings in Prop. 47 may make it out of one committee only to die in another. It will come as a surprise to the voting population of California that Prop. 47 downgraded the following serious felonies to misdemeanors: possession of date rape drugs, the theft of a firearm, and now prevents authorities from collecting the DNA of habitual criminals and denies police seeking search warrants for those crimes that were downgraded by Prop.47. After reading this article from the CJLF, you too will wonder just what are our elected state representatives thinking.
Governor Brown’s 2011 Realignment, sold to the public as a way to lower prison expenditures and bring down California’s prison population, the evidence is now available to show that it is anything but. Various efforts at cost reductions initially saved $1 billion within the first 2 years only to increase by nearly twice that amount in 2014. Tens of thousands released from state prison with an additional 45,000 from overwhelmed local jails has also led to double digit increases in all categories of crime. This CJLF Press Release will give you the facts you need to inform your opinion.
Crime in Los Angeles rose in all categories in 2015, LAPD says. And so goes the headline of the LA Times as it brings this problem to the public’s attention. Violent crime in L.A. climbed 19.9% and property crime increased 10.3% through Dec. 26 compared with the same period last year, according to the police data. It marked the second year in a row that violent crime rose, but the first time since 2003 that both violent and property crime rose. The increases follow more than a decade of steep declines in crime, particularly in homicides.
This article from the CJLF provides some commentary on a study by the Public Policy Institute. One question is unclear, just where did they get their data that informed their conclusions? Ever since 2011 getting any statistical data from official state agencies has been painfully slow or nonexistent. While the rise in crime in Los Angeles is not the only county to see major increases, it is the biggest and represents one-third of all crime in the state.
In reply to Dan Walters’ opinion piece on Crime becoming a non issue in Sunday’s Bee (Oct. 26, 2014), Mr. Reynolds replied with the following:
I would say crime is still a big issue when we see Prop 36 and now Prop 47 pretend they have the support of law enforcement and crime victims, campaigning on the promise of reducing crime.
With titles like “3 Strikes Law, Sentencing for Repeat Offenders” for Prop 36, and “The Safe Neighborhoods and School Funding Act” for Prop 47, voters are under the belief they will reduce crime and save money.
Dan Walters has previously done articles on how out Attorney General Kamala Harris often mislabels initiatives that change the actual intent to be misread by the voters. Now is no different.
The California State Legislature seems unwilling to undo even the most sensible bills written to undo the worst of Prop. 47. The California Criminal Justice Foundation sponsored 5 bills of which only 1 passed. Prop. 47, which received 70% of its funding from out-of-state contributors, including the ACLU and liberal billionaire George Soros, has been cited by law enforcement officials for causing increased crime in most parts of the state. The efforts were bipartisan including, but nonetheless unsuccessful.
This story is remarkable for the callousness exhibited by the perpetrator. The woman sentenced to prison was a substance abuse counselor who, under the influence, struck and killed a man with her vehicle and continued to drive 2 miles through Torrance, CA, with the poor victim still ensnared on the hood of her car. Other motorists got involved and blocked the woman’s path in order to stop the insanity and allow the police to arrest her. At her sentencing the judge said, “This is a callous murder, not an unfortunate act.” She received 45 years under the Three Strikes Law. The inebriated driver, Chante Mallard, a nurse’s aide, was sentenced to 50 years for the murder of the homeless who died over 2 days still stuck in the windshield of her car in her closed garage.
This story has its remarkable features as well. A burglar had to be released from the Fresno County jail due the ignorance of the jury hearing his trial. The jury used a NOT GUILTY form to attempt to inform the judge that they were deadlocked on a decision. Irrespective of the jury’s intention they nonetheless declared the man NOT GUILTY and he was released. The prosecutor assured the court that he would have refiled the case had the court been properly informed. The tragedy came about through his release from jail when he was murdered. Justice, it seems, was not denied after all.
CJLF, a legal and victims rights non-profit, sent out a newsletter, “Victims’ Group: The Release of More Inmates Like Throwing Gas on a Fire,” in July detailing the adverse, and horribly harmful effects of Governor Brown’s Realignment/ AB109 legislation, showing definite crime increase rather than the positive results after its implementation in 2010 as maintained by the Governor.
Gray Davis, the tarnished former California Governor, looks like a “law and order” kind of man compared to Governor Brown. When Davis served he only allowed a mere 2% of convicted killers to be released. Brown, however, looks wild by comparison with an 80% release of convicted killers.
Marc Klaas and former Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado warn San Jose Mercury News readers that the Legislature’s AB109 harmful effects are astronomical and more should be done to keep repeat felons in prison rather than do more to let them free.
The Los Angeles District Court has assigned one judge, William C. Ryan, to be the first review the cases of over 1,000 felons from LA County, who are up for parole after the passage of Prop. 36. No other county has done so at the writing of LA Times’ Jack Leonard’s article covering the issue.
Make no mistake, irrespective of whether these strikers were sentenced to life over the theft of cigarettes or $55 worth of clothes, all felons had a history of violent and serious crime. No one is sentenced to a third strike unless they’ve done prison time for such an offense at least twice in their criminal history. Most third strikers have an average of 9 or more serious or violent crimes.
And now, thanks to Mike Romano and Prop. 36, they’re being released back onto California’s streets.
Although Three Strikes is not appearing in the headlines these days, it’s become so commonplace, we thought you’d like to see what was big news back in 1995. After all, crime had never come down in California by such large margins before.
Although originally written in 2008, the editor “tripped” over this great article by Debra Saunders of the SF Chronicle, “Escaping the Myth of ‘Three Strikes”. It’s especially informative, and we hope influential, considering the Romano Initiative that seeks to greatly weaken 3 Strikes and You’re Out. Despite Mr. Romano’s claims otherwise, his initiative will not return 3 Strikes to the voters’ original intentions, but will redefine what counts as a strike and lead to the re-sentencing and release of thousands of California’s most dangerous inmates.
Twenty-Nine Years to Life for $20 Worth of Wire and Gloves
Twenty-Five Years to Life for Stealing a Slice of Pizza
Twenty-Five Years to Life for Taking Cookies.
Twenty-Five Years to Life for Bad Checks
These are headlines that newspapers have pounded Californians with since the start of 3 Strikes in 1994.
For the few that take the time to look into these cases they find, without exception, that all 3 Strikes offenders must have at least 2 prior convictions for serious or violent crimes.
They also understand that the value of a stolen item has nothing to do with the level of violence of which a repeat offender is capable. Most people are murdered over the value of little or nothing. If value and time in prison were part of the equation then auto theft would be life without parole.
Most offenders with strikes wise up and stop doing crime or leave California. Those who remain active do so at their own peril. They know they have strikes yet they choose to continue their criminality.
We, in turn, have the choice thanks to 3 Strikes, to end their criminal career without more victims becoming part of their “criminal therapy.”
While early release of sick or otherwise incapacitated inmates may seem compassionate or even a good way to reduce costs to the taxpayer, it is neither.
Other states who have pursued this policy have found these early release inmates quickly perish on the outside when left to fend for themselves. Those who are cared for in prison are cared for at taxpayer’s expense through Medicare or Medical. This only draws money from another pocket of the same taxpayer.
You can read about California’s recent legislation signed by former governor Schwarzenegger in Sept. 2010 and an example of how a heinous rapist will be given a medical parole hearing because he was incapacitated during a prison brawl thus leaving him a quadriplegic.
This is a report (from the May 16, 2011 FlashReport Blog) that is chock-full of hard to find data on prison populations, incarcerations, crime rates and comparisons that go back to 1980. A must read for academic presentations.
Paul Elias’ AP article on the “Stanford Law School’s potentially dangerous Three Strikes Project” may have been incomplete since most strikers have far more than the requisite 2 serious or violent strikes to qualify for a 25 to life term. As Mike Reynolds comments upon reading the article. “According the California’s Legislative Analyst’s office, ‘the average third striker has 5 felony convictions.’ I would suggest a closer look at this offender’s rap sheet would reveal a darker side to his criminal history and that is exactly what any court of appeal should do if this case gets that far. So far, thankfully, it hasn’t.” It’s our impression here at 3 Strikes that “journalists” often minimize a criminal’s history in order to gain sympathy, forgetting the victims.
Upon hearing of serial killer, John Wesley Ewell’s arrest, Mike Reynolds had the following to say:
This is a clear cut case of “I Told You So.”
This kind of event happens far more often than anyone wants to admit.
District Attorney Steve Cooley’s policy on 3 Strikes is endorsed by the LA Times and I feel many former screw ups in the pursuit of this policy have been omitted or “soft pedaled” by the Times.
This story, ironically, broke after an extremely close election that Cooley lost. If it had appeared prior to the election the outcome would have, no doubt, been more defined.
This is simply a case too big to sweep under the rug, soft pedal or perfume and it’s about time and overdue.
It’s a rare occasion when 3 Strikes is applied to a white collar crime. This is the first I have ever seen. Read how prosecutors were able to make an exception in this case.
Crime is down – for the third year in a row – reports the Associated Press, and all their “consultants” don’t understand why. Sadly, the AP consulted with classroom professors and political sources, all of whom who have no real world experience with crime as it affects you and me, the public. They never considered that since California has more than 10% of the American population and that California’s Three Strikes has locked up a considerable number of transient incorrigible repeat offenders, thus Three Strikes has taken a great number of the nation’s criminals out of circulation for the benefit of all, but read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions.
This fascinating, brief, but concise bit of information came to us from the July 2010 issue of California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) issue of Peacekeeper, “Who’s Really Behind Bars?” It relates several myths about 3 Strikes and the truth countering those myths. Read it here.
The Honorable Justice James A. Ardaiz, Presiding Justice of the 5th District Court of Appeal, wrote the Fresno Bee in response to an editorial by Ward Connerly. In it, Justice Ardaiz relates numerous facts and observations gained from years of service on the bench about 3 Strikes of which Mr. Connerly seems to be unaware. We trust that had Mr. Connerly known this information he may have a different opinion than that which he shared.
This latest Associated Press article to catch Mike’s eye “is surprisingly refreshing to see a Bay Area program that actually targets crime and criminals.”
This recent effort by those opposed to 3 Strikes is in line and consistent with virtually all 3 Strikes cases to have reached the U S Supreme Court.
It is noteworthy to observe that this was once again a 4 to 5 decision by the court. The long lasting legacy of a President is always his federal “life time” appointments.
This particular challenge was fully anticipated from the time of 3 Strikes original drafting. We knew that juveniles that were tried as adults were afforded a jury trial and they also faced adult penalties if convicted. We know convictions under this system would stand up to the question of constitutionality.
When juveniles are prosecuted under the juvenile system, a judge decides guilt or innocence and thus a juvenile is, in fact, denied a jury trial. But the punishment for offenders under this system is dramatically reduced. This system raised a question of, “Did a prior conviction count? It’s been 15 years but we finally got the answer in this decision.
Example: A first degree murderer would serve a maximum sentence to the age of 24 under the juvenile system.
It has taken 15 years to finally get the final and, I think, correct decision.
When you think of 3 Strikes you can’t help but think of the guy who stole a slice of pizza and got 25 years to life.
This is a great article that shows 3 things:
1. Unlike many other states’ laws California’s 3 Strikes law is the real deal.
2. It also shows it is fair in finding cases that should be exceptions to the rule.
3. And last it proves the deterrent value of this law.
Such are the points to consider from Jack Leonard’s LA Times article detailing the events in the life of the “pizza thief.”
After the fact, we all look for reasons why and what could be done to have changed the outcome of a tragic event.
In the case of Leroy Johnson, who has had a long and violent criminal career, it wasn’t unexpected it would end with the cold blooded, “up close and personal” throat slashing of 2 helpless, bound victims.
Mr. Johnson had plenty of strikes and should have been, in hindsight, behind bars.
No one holds our society more responsible for its action than our courts. They are, in effect, the zookeepers that are assigned to keep the dangerous away from the rest of us. So when a dangerous animal is back on our streets does the zookeeper who let him out bear some responsibility for the resulting violence?
In May, The Los Angeles Times found some misguided “young men” helping hard core convicted felons to get out of prison (read article here). Mike Reynolds has prepared some remarks regarding their efforts.
A sidebar article reference from the 10 Aug. 2007 Fresno Bee that referred to a recent 2005 US DOJ study prompted Mike Reynolds to comment, “Crime laws, including 3-Strikes are often cited for being racially disproportionate. It’s not the laws, it’s the crime.”
“Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it. The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect. I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) – what am I going to do, hide them?” – Naci Mocan, Economics Professor at the University of Colorado at Denver on studies he did that report each execution deters an average of 18 murders.
Several studies, this news story by the AP being a story on the most recent, conclude that capital punishment does have a deterrent effect. In fact, the less time a killer spends on death row the more lives are saved. Like Three Strikes, when the penalty is certain or too much for an offender, crime is discouraged.
While it occurs all to infrequently, it does happen, a sentence is reviewed for being too lenient. This AP article gives us a summary of how Charley Charles (formerly Charles Rothenberg) had his sentenced bumped up to 25-to-Life. The issue was over whether Charles-Rothenberg’s attempted murder of his young son by setting him afire in 1983 should count as 1 strike or 2 in his recent trial for a felon being in possession of a handgun and ammunition. We are pleased to report that the First District Court of Appeal determined that it should be 2 strikes, thus remitting this heinous criminal to prison for the rest of his life.
At times even we here at Three Strikes are astonished, we’ve heard of long rap sheets but never anyone with 226 arrests. However, even mellow Nebraska has limits on its patience, Kevin Holder’s 226th arrest will likely fetch him up to 60 years in prison.
This is an AP article that will not impress regular Three Strikes readers as anything insightful. Its headline, “Most Violent Felons Have Priors,” should come as no surprise to anyone but its author. Nonetheless we thought we would provide it for your reading in case you missed it.
Death Row is without question the most secure, closely monitored high security prison facility in our California corrections system. How did Richard Allen Davis not only get drugs but also the paraphernalia to administer it? How long has he been doing drugs on Death Row? How can we possible expect criminals to come out of prison and stop doing crime when they never stop using the drugs that compelled the crime for which they are doing time?
Los Angeles’ schizophrenic response to fighting crime. On one hand District Attorney Steve Cooley wants to reform 3-Strikes so it won’t lock up repeat offenders and yet on the other he wants to release over 1/2 of California’s ‘strikers.’ In a most complicated manner he wants to now get tough on repeat offenders who represent 10% of the criminals that are responsible for 50% of the crime by locking them up for as long as possible. We here at 3-Strikes ask, “Which is it, Steve? Make up your mind.”
Solano County District Attorney, David Paulson writes in the Vallejo Times-Herald, that’s there is no reason to reform 3 Strikes. Mr. Paulson refutes LA County DA, Steve Cooley’s claim that District Attorneys and Judges abuse their discretion in sentencing felons. Paulson points out that Cooley stands as the lone member of 58 California District Attorneys who support reform of 3 Strikes.
This is a long overdue article that provides tangible evidence of what studies (Clairemont-McKenna and the Chicago study, available on this website) have shown that 3-Strikes is an effective deterrent to repeat offenders.
He’s sworn to uphold justice for those in his county but he wants to undo Three Strikes and You’re Out. In 2005, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley took the lead from a defense attorney (of all things) to offer yet another proposition to undo 3-Strikes. Being of limited means and unable to afford signature gathering, the California State Legislature came to Cooley’s rescue. The California state legislature is poised to pass a bill to offer the proposition for him. This move will save what funds Cooley has for advertising for the November 2006 election.
Regarding this development Mike Reynolds remarked,”3-Strikes drew a clear line in the sand. Now Cooley wants to move that line back. No matter how far that line moves there will always be someone to test it and some criminal defense group that wants to move it back more. Los Angeles saw its greatest crime drops prior to Steve Cooley and under the direction of a District Attorney that was not afraid to remove repeat offenders with his use of 3-Strikes. Cooley claims that because of his careful use of prosecutorial discretion, he has avoided abuse of the 3-Strikes law. Now he wants to take that discretion away from himself and 57 other county prosecutors. If he succeeds, a felon [charged with] carrying a loaded gun would no longer be a strike even if he had 5 prior armed robbery convictions. If crime goes up after Cooley’s proposal passes you won’t have the ability to use stronger enforcement of 3-Strikes as a crime fighting option.”
Academics are an amazingly biased bunch, although the facts are apparent, they still refuse to accept that 3-Strikes is lessening even the need for the death penalty in California. However, California’s District Attorneys understand that a lot of the worst criminals “are now in prison before they commit the murders.” The Sacramento Bee reported that fact but included that information at the end of this 18 February 2006 article titled, “Fewer are sent to death”.
Will Lionel Tate become Florida’s version of California’s pizza thief?
Lionel Tate could face a life sentence for robbing a pizza delivery man of 3 pizzas worth $33. Is this justice? He could also face 20 years in prison for using a gun under Florida’s 10-20-Life law. It turns out that neither the robbery nor the use of a gun is the worst of his problems, but rather his probation violation from a prior murder of a 6-year old girl that threatens to send him away. Now he is hearing voices that tell him to commit suicide. What happened to the voice that should have told him not to kill that 6-year old or rob the pizza man? It was there, he chose not to listen. 5 Dec. 2005 AP article, 6 Dec. 2005 AP article.
DEATH PENALTY: Executions drop in 2004.
This AP article has several interesting stats.
NATIONWIDE – 59 prisoners were executed last year, 22 died of natural causes and 125 new convictions for death were handed down (this is the lowest rate since 1973).
The fact that the murder rate was the lowest in 40 years explains why Fewer murders equals fewer murder convictions.
CALIFORNIA. There are 637 inmates on death row. Even though California has 11% of the nation’s population, it has 20% of the nation’s 3,315 death row inmates.
The reason is that California has executed less than a dozen inmates since 1979. Most of these executions are held up with endless appeals at the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
PAROLE REVIEW: Surprise. The leading cause of crime is criminals and the leading source of criminals is our prison system. While a seemingly obvious statement, as this article shows, it is entirely true.
GETTING TOUGH GETS RESULTS
While only 25 states have 3-Strikes laws, all states have increased their time required to serve for violent and serious convictions from 50% to 85% of their convictions. This falls under the 1994 Clinton Crime Act that also added 100,000 new police officers across the nation.
While those police officer grants have long expired, the 85% of time has remained and detained and deterred many of this nation’s long-time, lifetime, career serious and violent criminals. The results speak for themselves. They also show a looming problem with gang violence that is on the rise and must be dealt with in the same “get tough” fashion.
This 18 October AP story on dramatic crime reduction in the US provides yet further evidence that tougher law enforcement and sentencing is working to protect the American public.
With all the attention Three Strikes and You’re Out receives – good and bad – the companion legislation, 10-20-Life oftentimes goes overlooked. Senator Chuck Poohchigian supplied our Fresno Bee with an article on the merits of 10-20-Life in July that touts the merits of dealing with the source of gun violence: criminals.
Three Strikes and You’re Out has now not only survived a Supreme Court challenge but also has been reaffirmed by the voting California public. Dr. Henry Nicholas wasn’t very political before the November 2004 election but it seems he is now and more dedicated to 3-Strikes than before. In fact, Governor Schwarzenegger and Dr. Nicholas pulled off something of a miracle in the last week before the election as this Associate Press article shows.
California State Senator Chuck Poochigian has it right. Since its inception, 3-Strikes has prevented millions of Californians from becoming crime victims, saved California residents billions of dollars in pain, suffering and damage and lowered crime states more so than any other state in the union. But don’t just take our word for it, read Senator Poochigian’s article for yourself.
According to an Associated Press article, detailing a number of stats on America’s children, one that interests us here at 3-Strikes is America’s youth also made progress in the area of crime. They were less likely to be victimized in a serious violent crime – murder, rape, robbery or aggravated assault – or to commit one.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is opposing a November ballot proposition that would reform the state’s tough “three strikes, you’re out” sentencing law, writes Justin Pritchard of the Associate Press, 01 July 2004. “It’s extraordinarily positive to have such a popular governor helping us oppose the initiative,” said Mike Reynolds. We here at 3-Strikes hope the Governor will campaign actively to help us “Nix Prop. 66.”
It costs an extraordinary amount of money to finance a California state initiative. In this case, Jerry Keenan, a Sacramento insurance company owner spent $1.56 million in an attempt to reform 3 Strikes just to get his son out of a lengthy manslaughter prison sentence for the deaths of 2 friends and great bodily injury caused to a third passenger while under the influence and driving while his license was suspended.
Had Keenan been successful, thousands of felons would have had to re-sentenced and 3 Strikes changed forever.
Joe Klass, grandfather of 12 year old Polly Klaas, who kidnapped, abused and murdered by Richard Allen Davis, led an effort to reform 3 Strikes by making the third strike serious or violent, has gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot. As always savings in the millions of dollars are promised as are the re-sentencing and release of thousands of felons currently in custody in the CDC.
This is a significant story that appeared in the 27 June 2004 edition of the Contra Costa Times. Anti 3-Strikes experts have for a long time used San Francisco as an example of reduced crime in a county that does not use its 3-Strikes law (the DA doesn’t prosecute non-violent/non-serious felonies as strikes). Crime has caught up with them and now it is clear that this highly touted San Francisco rate was too good to last.
Even the hardened convict can be brought to his senses. When faced with the possibility of life in prison, Jesus Salazar went straight. We’re glad for his success here at Three Strikes.
The Orange County Register carried an op-ed on the fantastic results of Three Strikes and You’re Out by its local District Attorney, Tony Rackauckas. Mr. Rackauckas says, “I believe the current ‘three-strikes’ law is the most effective tool in identifying and prosecuting the most serious and violent career criminals who refuse to rehabilitate.” We couldn’t agree more. Just as importantly, Mr. Rackauckas also says about the so-called reform initiative coming in November 2004, “The ‘reform’ is in fact a Trojan horse supported by families of felons, criminal defense attorneys and social liberals.” Again, we concur with Mr. Rackauckas. Well said.
The Three Strikes and Child Protection Act of 2004 has gathered sufficient signatures to qualify (at the time of this printing) for the California November 2004 ballot. Please see our analysis, by Douglas Pipes, on this measure. Any modification to the current 3-Strikes law will ensure the return of some of California’s most dangerous criminals on California streets and consequently, an astronomical increase in crime. One of the worst provisions of this initiative is that it is retroactive to 1994, calling for the re-sentencing of EVERY criminal who has been sentenced under 3-Strikes’ sentencing guidelines.
Fresno’s Police Chief, Jerry Dyer, is not content with record low major violent and property crimes continues the push for enforcement to drive those numbers even lower, as he states in the Fresno Bee’s , January 21, 2004, news article.
Three Strikes, as written now, removes child molesters from society just fine. Read here about Kenneth Eugene Parnell, who sentenced to 25 years to life, for trying to buy a small boy. Parnell is infamously known for kidnapping Stephen Stayner decades ago. Parnell is also a very good example of how dangerously active criminals can be even in their old age.
Mike attempted to reply to the Fresno Bee’s January 2004 editorial requesting dialogue on allowing the parole of “elderly” prison inmates, however it seems the Bee didn’t mean for people like Mike to respond. However, this site exists to make certain that Mike Reynolds’ opinion will be heard. Be sure to read this exchange if for no other reason than to get both sides on the issue.
Justice delayed is not necessarily justice denied. If convicted, Douglas David Walker will face 25 years to life for stealing a truck tool box. Walker was involved in the murder of Kimber Reynolds and pleaded out to lesser charges to avoid a murder sentence at that time. His arrest will take another criminal with a predilection to murder off the street without further bloodshed, but then that’s what 3-Strikes is all about: Preventing the suffering of another victim.[Editor’s note – although Walker dodged 25 to Life at sentencing, after finishing his sentence, Walker was released and then jailed for beating his girlfriend. He was then further charged for making terrorist threats over the phone WHILE IN JAIL.]
Sunday, 25 October 2003, the Associate Press and our own Fresno Bee ran a number of articles dealing with illegal alien criminals. Mike prepared some remarks offering solutions to this important issue for our visitors. A list of the articles also appears with Mike’s comments.
Even though Tom Higgins is running against Cooley in the Los Angeles District Attorney race, it is still telling in that Higgins criticizes Cooley on his policy of not prosecuting third strikers as per Three Strikes law. This article is from the 7 Sept. 2003 LA Daily Journal.
Ten years have passed more quickly than expected.
The Klaas family has not forgotten Polly – nor have I forgotten Kimber (SF Chronicle article, 28 Sept. 2003).
These 2 girls’ murders drove the outrage of releasing violent criminals back into society, only to recommit the same crimes over and over. It was Kimber’s murder that provided the starting energy to draft the language of the 3-Strikes law and introduce it in legislative bill form, as well as the initiative form.
Polly’s murder was high publicity in a large population area of California that 3-Strikes needed to get the statewide signatures to place it on the ballot and also to force California’s “soft on crime” legislators to pass a similar bill.
Ten years has also come to show large drops in violent crime. No new prisons have been built in the last 10 years and California has seen its prison population stabilize at about 160,000 inmates.
Most people with any level of objectivity that once opposed 3-Strikes now support it. A few of the people that did not initially support 3-Strikes now do. Among them being California prosecutors, California attorney general Bill Lockyer, California governor Gray Davis, and Polly Klass’ dad Marc Klaas.
The most complete chronicle of events dealing with how and when they happened and how they worked for or against the passage of this nation’s toughest crime law can be found in Amazon’s used books. It is currently out of print.
This 7 September 2003 article just in from The Sacramento Bee’s Mareva Brown. Ms. Brown writes a “fair and balanced” piece that gives our visitors information from California’s Recall candidates regarding their respective positions on Three Strikes.
As usual, the under-appreciated aspect of fighting crime: harsher sentencing, is given short shrift in this Associated Press article. Please see Mike’s introductory comments related to this news. Three Strikes is also providing a link to the DOJ’s Criminal Victimization 2002 PDF file.
The latest crime stats from California’s Attorney General’s Office were carried by Knight-Ridder 2 July 2003. The stats showed California’s overall crime rate rose 2.4% since 2001 but violent offenses fell by 2.7%. We here at Three Strikes still point the finger at Los Angeles where fifty percent of all crime occurs ((LA County DA Cooley won’t use 3-Strikes’ guidelines). Once the pre-Three Strike parolees are caught and re-sentenced under Three Strikes watch for the numbers to drop. Read also the CA Attorney General’s 2002 Statewide Crime Rates Report that preceded the above article.
The Kansas court that originally sentenced Michael T. Crane for attempted rape and attempted sodomy had it right: 35 years to life. Unfortunately, the Kansas State Supreme Court commuted his sentence to 3 to 10 years. The state authorities tried to keep him confined but were overruled by a previous US Supreme Court decision. It wasn’t long before Crane raped another woman and is now being held without bond.
The Times actually criticized the local DA for not prosecuting more criminals under the Three Strikes sentencing guidelines ( May 27, 2003). Only time will tell if this is just a hiccup or an indication of a true change in political persuasion. Mr. Reynolds has prepared some comments that are worth a read.
Ms. Anne Gearan of the Associated Press wrote an article, 9 April 2003, about Justice Kennedy’s remarks, “Two million people in prison is just unacceptable” as he spoke before a House appropriations committee. Unintentionally or carefully ignoring the fact that just last month the US Supreme Court had ruled that California’s Three Strike law was not cruel and unusual punishment and could not, therefore, be overturned on that basis. Ms. Gearan could have mentioned that Justice O’Connor said, states rightly have decided that repeat offenders “must be isolated from society … to protect the public safety, but she didn’t. Mr. Reynolds has prepared a response to correct Ms. Gearan’s oversight.
Wednesday, March 5, 2003, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Three Strikes. We have a copy of the Associated Press’ Wednesday article, care of the Fresno Bee, as well as Adobe AcroReader PDF files (Lockyer v. Andrade and Ewing v. California) for those who would like to read the justices reasoning. Needless to say, we couldn’t be more pleased. Three Strikes has also collected a number of articles that we have listed on an Index Page.
With the launch of the 10-20-Life awareness program here in Fresno, Mike is again in the news. Here’s an article from the Sacramento Bee and this article from our own Fresno Bee with a good representation of both sides of the debate.
This just in (2 July 2003) from our favorite criminal justice professor (now Dean), Jennifer Walsh, an entirely unique perspective on the use of the Three Strikes sentencing law as used in California jurisprudence. Jennifer’s article shows how the prerogative of California’s judges and district attorneys to strike a strike is used in the furtherance of justice.
The shoplifting crimes that sent two California men to prison were not particularly shocking: $1,200 worth of golf clubs from a pro shop in one case, and children’s videotapes worth $153.54 in the other. Gary A. Ewing, who was caught moments after his theft with the three golf clubs hidden in his pants leg, “is precisely the kind of person you want to get off the streets,” Justice Antonin Scalia told Mr. Ewing’s lawyer, Quin Denvir, after surveying the defendant’s life of mostly petty crimes. “He’s going to do it again,” Justice Scalia added. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist challenged Mr. Denvir: “Why can’t California decide that enough is enough, that someone with a long string like that simply deserves to be put away?”
Justices hearing the CAG vs. Leandro Andrade appeal have signaled by their questioning during hearings that they are inclined to support California’s 3 Strikes and You’re Out repeat offender law. As Liberals are wont to do when they lose at the ballot box, they appeal initiatives detrimental to their agenda up the chain of courts necessary to achieve their goal. Having won at the US Ninth Circuit an appeal was made and granted by Attorney General Bill Lockyer to have the case reviewed by the US Supreme Court.
If you haven’t heard already, the United States Supreme Court will be hearing a Three Strikes related case this November 5, 2002 with a ruling expected by May or June of 2003. We’re confident of a ruling in our favor and here are 4 articles from various renown newspapers explaining why. For those of you who are interested in the amicus briefs (see Gary Albert Ewing v. California, Tuesday, November 5, 2002) and the Court’s docket, we’ve got links to those.
For those of our readers that follow the various reports about crime (the numbers are up in California and down in the nation overall) and are perhaps confused by the seeming contradictory factors, Mike has prepared some comments that may help clarify the matter.
The California Supreme Court recently took on and decided several cases (Acosta and Cornelius) having to do with sentencing under Three Strikes. Please see these lead-in remarks that clarify the legal points considered.
The California Fourth District Court of Appeals, has posted a decision affirming their support of the Three Strikes law. We have it here in Adobe PDF format. The CA Fourth’s reasoning more closely matches previous US Supreme Court precedence.
This 10 June 2002 AP article bemoaning so-called “aged” inmates within America’s prisons and how such prisoners tax our strained resources suffers from numerous shortcomings in the development of its logic. Mike has a number of insightful comments on the topic.
Put this one under, “They’re they go again!” Fortunately the CA Senate rejected an attempt to weaken 3-Strikes. Twenty senators voted NO. Senator Polanco can say what he likes about crime being down in states without 3-strikes laws, which is true, BUT no state has seen the reductions in crime California has – an average of 32.7% versus the rest of the nation’s 13.0% (FBI 1998 study).
It doesn’t happen often but in Monterey County’s The Californian article, 10 April 2002, prosecutors AND defense attorneys agree that 3-Strikes works and is NOT being misused in Monterrey county.
By now, everyone has heard that 3-Strikes is up for review by the US Supreme Court. We have a copy of the news article from our very own Fresno Bee some comments by Mike for your reading and consideration.
The Washington Times covered the opening arguments of CAG vs. Andrade noting that even Justice Ginsburg was skeptical of Leandro Andrade’s lawyer, Erwin Chemerinsky and Quin Denvir, attorney for Gary Ewing, remarking “California was not punishing him (Andrade), but incapacitating a person who posed a threat.” The two were life long drug addicts who had served at least two previous prison terms for crimes that were serious or violent and upon release resumed their criminal careers. In this case shoplifting store items to sell for heroin. Though the crimes were non-violent they had been arrested and prosecuted before for shoplifting, thus, under California law, bumping up their charges to felonies and triggering their third strike.
Seeking an end run around the 1994 passage of Three Strikes and You’re Out, the case of a life long drug addicts, Leandro Andrade and Gary Ewing, made its way to the Supreme Court for review. Erwin Chemerinsky, attorney for Andrade, in an attempt to shock the public conscience called Adrade’s sentence “cruel and unique.” In their initial appearance for argument Chemerinsky and Denvir did not fare well before the Court.
This LA Times article details how fifty percent of all crime in California has historically happened in Los Angeles has historically happened in Los Angeles alone. Thus, LA sets the trend and direction of the state crime rate. It’s been well known that during the last 2 years crime has been once again on the rise. The question is why? The answer is best illustrated in the article that points out the influx of paroled inmates that were sentenced in the early 1990s prior to 3-Strikes. They are coming into LA at the rate of 500 per month or 6,000 per year. This, combined with a police department that is more afraid of its own internal investigations than criminals on the street has resulted in more crime and fewer arrests. Much like the aftermath of the years following Rodney King.
This Associated Press article details why prison populations are stabilizing. An interesting statistic says that 1 in 145 of the population is in prison or jail. This is 0.6897% (which is less than one percent, emphasis ours) of the total US population, suggesting that the number of offenders troubling our nation is very small indeed. Yet considering the harm and damage (see page 5, table 1 for numbers of crimes and page 12, table 1 for costs) they’re responsible for, the dollars expended containing them is well spent.
The headline of this LA Times article reads, “Crimes Against Latinos Decrease.” And Mike made the following remarks … The drops coincide with 3-Strikes passage. For a long time it’s been known that when crime rates go up or down that the people who are affected first and most are those who live in the poor part of communities. Indeed, dropping rates give these neighborhoods a better chance for business to start and grow, thus providing badly needed jobs. Safe streets allow kids to get home with more concern for their homework than for their lives. Just as every person, regardless of who they are or where they live, desires clean air and water; they should likewise expect and enjoy the same level of public safety. No one should live in fear.
This Fresno man’s rape sentence, a very serious and violent crime, is representative of why Three Strikes was designed the way it was. Smith had no violent crimes in his past. However, he graduated to violence by raping this poor woman. It will be some time before he’ll get the chance to do anything worse. Please see Mike’s comments on plea bargaining which was a big part of this case.
First Orange County judges and defense lawyers complain that Capizzi clogged the courts by not plea bargaining. Now Capizzi’s successor, Rackauckas is plea bargaining, bringing down the number of felons receiving life sentences from Orange County and the defense lawyers are now complaining that their clients are being forced “like a gun to their heads” to accept plea bargains.
The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has done it again. Here, Three Strikes has copy of the LA Times article detailing some of the machinations, interviews and remarks surrounding the latest success of Erwin Chemerinsky to free more felons, Bray, 4 strikes and Brown, 5 strikes, back on to the streets of California. We also have a copy of the decision from the Ninth in PDF format. Mike’s comments to the Klaas article very appropriate to this decision.
Three Strikes doesn’t ordinarily include articles Joe Klaas’ opinions and remarks. In this instance, we do so in order that Mike may reply to him. Please be sure to read this letter of reply to a story carried by the Associated Press.
It would seem that even the MOST liberal of California’s newspapers has discovered the truth. The San Jose Mercury News recently ran an article, Friday, Dec. 28, 2001 that Three Strikes is an effective law serving the public good. We will have a copy here for inperpetuum.
Leandro Andrade, a heroin addict for most of his life, was convicted of his third strike in 1995 and sentenced to 50 years to life for stealing $153.00 worth of video tapes from a San Bernadino, CA convenience store. His sentence was appealed and found its way to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals where his sentence was ruled unconstitutional (cruel and unusual punishment). This court has a history of legislating from the bench and for being overruled by sound legal precedence. The same will hold true for Mr. Andrade as born out by Mike Reynolds’ commentary and the dissenting opinion of Justice Sneed (from the 9th US Circuit Court’s own records). We also have a copy of a Sacramento Bee article that gives some nice background on the case and a complete copy of the Court’s decision in PDF format. The complete US Ninth opinion can be viewed here.
Associated Press writer Dan Thompson consulted Dr. Frank Zimring (renowned 3-Strikes opponent) for comments on how California is sending fewer criminals to prison but for longer periods of time. Dr. Zimring credited 3 month old Proposition 36 for lowering those numbers. Mike Reynolds had some comments he wanted to share with our visitors to be read in conjunction with the AP article so you’ll have both sides represented. Unlike this article, which sadly represents a preconceived notion.
In a first of its kind of study, analyzing life expectancy by race and cause of death, the Centers of Disease Control has issued a report detailing how homicide decreases life expectancy for blacks due to homicide. From the Associated Press, Sept. 13, 2001
This article from the New York Times, Aug. 13, 2001, detailing the decrease of 6,200 inmates nationwide (503 less inmates in California), takes a different approach. It correctly analyzes the data noting the upswing in prison population since 1972 (this has been going on for some time) and its recent decline. Please click here to read it for yourself.
The Fresno Bee and the Associated Press are selectively interpreting data. The August 10, 2001 Headline reads, “California prison population up 40%.” But when you read further, you see that the information was taken out of context. Please read Mike’s commentary on the article and view the information from the California DOJ that debunks the Bee.
A Fresno Bee article regarding an additional $12 million for second strike parolees. This is a program worth watching. National stats show that people who have gone through a parole process after their release from incarceration have only a slightly less recidivism rate than those that do not. The actual benefit may be to provide an earlier opportunity to recommit offenders with prior serious and violent convictions.
A Fresno Bee article about a felon awaiting trial for 2 heinous murders was found with 3 knives in his cell while awaiting prosecution. This is a case where 3-Strikes becomes an ace in the hole. It allows the prosecutor to try this case without plea bargaining down the charges. In the event of a failure to convict on the murder charges, 3-Strikes will provide a 70 year backup sentence to ensure that a killer will not be returned to the streets.
This Associated Press article as taken from the June 9, 2001 edition of the New York Times. It details how the number of state prisoners grew by only 1.5%, the lowest annual increase in 29 years! We’re glad provide a copy of the article
Just before this report came out, an FBI study said that the decade long declination in crime rates was at an end. Now this study from the US Department of Justice says that violent crime is down 15% in the year 2000. The US DOJ National Crime Victimization Survey report is based on statistical sampling based upon the answer of 160,000 American residents. Please read this extract from the Reuters News Service.
Isn’t it an ironic coincidence that the very people who stood in the way of 3-strikes, because it would supposedly double California prison populations, now stand in the way of new prison construction on the grounds that California has seen 3 years of no growth in its prison inmate population. California has gone 15 years without building a power plant – how long can it go without building a prison? Also noteworthy is the once again fictitious use of concern for the environment as a tool to derail a badly needed project. Read about it here.
Then Attorney General Bill Lockyer and noted sociologist Malcolm Klein, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Southern California, attribute newly low crime rates to everything but 3 Strikes. Professor Klein even suggested God might be responsible when interviewed. Since Jerry Brown was elected in 2010 and immediately set about to erase those gains by releasing 50,000 plus serious and violent felons back on the streets of California, thus causing double digit increases in all categories of crime, I think we can safely assume these devoted public servants knew all along that 3 Strikes was responsible for bringing down crime.
From the AP, March 25, 2001. An article about our prison populations’ growth rate slowing due to stricter sentencing.
Our nation’s prison population is not swelling over! This article from the Associated Press National contains a quote the from chief of corrections at the Bureau of Justice Statistics that there are not necessarily more criminals being sentenced to prison but that prisoners are staying longer. President Bush, then candidate Bush, has said that, the surge in the number of prisoners in recent years “is a necessary and effective role of government – protecting our communities from predators.”
It took California’s Three Strikes law to mete out long over due justice to a cult killer. Robert Rozier was convicted January 12, 2001 on check fraud, his third strike. Rozier pleaded guilty in a Florida court 20 years ago to murdering 4 previous members of the Yahweh Ben Yahweh religious cult. He confessed to 3 others but was still allowed to serve only 10 years of a 20 year sentence. We are only too glad to provide a copy of the newspaper article for our readers.
Just recently, a Tiger Woods impostor faced 200 years to life for his third strike in a Sacramento, CA courtroom. It would seem that Anthony Lemar Taylor racked up $17,000 in credit card expenses by posing as Tiger Woods. Taylor used Woods’ name (now called identity theft) to fraudulently acquire credit cards. We have a copy of the Sacramento Bee article here.
The Long Beach Press-Telegram recently did a 6 day special coverage on the Three Strikes Law. Interestingly enough, it was just before the election. It is now available for our visitors. The take away point one should realize from reading the article is that the crime felons are sentenced under is frequently NOT the crime for which they were arrested. Given the greater penalties nowadays felons are highly motivated to plead to a lesser offense rather than take their chances at trial. District Attorneys go along to save time and expense.
Newsweek carried an article in its Nov. 13th 2000 edition that commented, “Yes, the inmate population is growing – but that has given us safer streets.” But then we knew that all along here at Three Strikes. And, of course, we have a copy a copy here for you to read.
The Fresno and Sacramento Bee newspapers did not have this Associated Press article in their online versions but we have it here at Three Strikes! It’s about how California’s state prison population is decreasing more and more! We’re only too glad to provide a copy for the viewing public inperpetuum.
This is a reproduction of an article from California Lawyer, December 1999. In this article, California
prosecutors provide examples of some of their most memorable Three Strike cases including the “Pizza Thief”.
The Sacramento Bee reports in its May 6, 2000 edition that “After long climb, state’s prison population falls.” It should come as no surprise that the Three Strikes initiative gets no credit for the prison population decrease. A decrease was anticipated all along once Three Strikes began taking the hard core offenders off the street.
This link is to a Fresno Bee article detailing how Three Strikes removed a mentally ill offender off the streets. Though the jury was deadlocked on the man’s sanity at the time of his multiple attempts to kill his family and neighbors, Three Strikes sent him to prison for being a previous two-strike felon in possession of a firearm.
Here’s another Sacramento Bee article detailing the conviction of the ‘Bicycle Thief’ that was featured on the 60 Minutes segment of Three Strikes. It should be noted that the thief had 11 prior convictions that led to his being sentenced under the Three Strikes law. It should also be noted that his victim, who was pregnant at the time, lost her baby due to all the excitement.