Stanford Law School releases progress report on Prop 36

September 10, 2013

The Stanford Law School Three Strikes Project on Monday released its latest progress report on Proposition 36, which was passed by state voters in November. 

California’s three-strikes law was long considered one of the strongest in the nation. Under the law, defendants could be sentenced to life in prison when they were convicted of a third felony, no matter what that felony was. In theory, a person convicted of felony theft could be sentenced to spend the rest of life in prison, for instance, if they had had two prior felonies. The revisions passed in November authorized the state to impose a life sentence only when the new felony conviction is “serious or violent” or for a minor felony crime if the individual had a previous felony conviction for murder, rape or child molestation.

Before the changes, California’s law was recognized to be the harshest of the 24 states with similar laws.  The revisions also meant that some people currently serving prison time under the old three strikes law could petition the courts for re-sentencing under the revised law, a change possibly affecting hundreds of state inmates. Critics argue that the retroactive application is taking far too long to implement, however.

Among the findings of the Stanford Three Strikes Project are:

  • More than 1,000 inmates have been re-sentenced and released pursuant to the revisions
  • More than 2,000 eligible cases are outstanding, including more than 800 just in Los Angeles County
  • The recidivism rate for prisoners released under Prop 36 is 2 percent, compared to the state average of 16 percent
  • Prop 36 has saved state taxpayers between $10 and $13 million already

The full report, located online here, also includes a number of success stories about those who have been released from prison under Prop 36 and offers a number of recommendations to state and local officials, including increasing the resources available for dedicating to Prop 36 cases.



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