Three Strikes You’re Out Law
Essay written by: cv5199
We have all heard of the newest anti-crime law, the “Three strikes
and youre out” law. It wasnt easy getting this law from the bill stage
in Sacramento to the law stage, because it is not a criminal friendly
law. Meaning that this laws purpose is to bring pain, suffering, and
intimidation to criminals. Our state government was basically ran by
the Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, now mayor of San Francisco.
Brown had the power to choose who sat on what committee in the
house, and using this he could terminate any bill he did not agree
with. And with this attitude it took a lot of patients and perseverance
by the people trying to pass this bill. But how did the bill become a
bill? I will answer this question with help of the Kimber Reynolds
Monday, June 29, 1992 in Fresno, California a young woman was
brutally murdered outside The Daily Planet, a restaurant patronized by
the local young people. The girl was visiting home for the summer
after being in the Los Angeles area attending school. Her and a friend
were getting into their car when two guys on a motorcycle rode up
next to Kimber Reynolds blocking her in, taking her purse, and beating
her into submission. The story made the 11 oclock news only minutes
after her father had gone to bed. When police ran a background check
on the two suspected men, Joeseph Micheal Davis and Douglas
Walker, both men had recently been released on parole with multiple
offenses on their records. Unfortunately Davis was never brought in
because when police were attempting to arrest him he began firing,
wounding unsuspecting police officers and ultimately being killed.
Douglas Walker was convicted of accessory to murder.
Mike Reynolds, Kimbers father, went on the radio on a local radio
show called the Ray Appleton Show, KMJ 580. There he would discuss
his outrage about how he was sick of repeat offenders being locked up
only to be released after a fraction of the sentence was completed. He
swore to the people listening that he was going to do something
about the problem, even if it takes him forever. Listening to that show
was Fresno Assemblyman Bill Jones (R). He was interested in the
issue and arranged a meeting with Mike. They discussed ideas about
how they could solve this problem.
With that in mind Mike used some connections and gathered one
superior, one appellate, and one municipal court judge, as well as a
well-known local defense attorney, a representative from the Fresno
Police Department, an expert in juvenile justice and Ray Appleton.
The men did some research and drew up some ideas. Their final
legislative proposal was as follows:
Double the sentence for a conviction of any felony if there is a previous
serious or violent felony conviction.
Triple the sentence or twenty-five years to life, whichever is greater, for
any combination of two prior violent or serious felony convictions
coupled with any new felony.
Probation, a suspended sentence, or a commitment to a diversion
program as a substitute for serving time in prison is prohibited for felons
with at least one prior conviction of a serious or violent felony.
Any felon with at least one prior serious or violent felony conviction
must serve any subsequent felony sentence in a state prison (as opposed to
a county jail).
Terms are to be served consecutively, rather than concurrently.
Maximum allowable time off for good behavior is reduced to 20 percent.
Juvenile convictions for serious of violent felonies count as prior
convictions if the felony was committed when the juvenile was sixteen or
seventeen years old.
When a defendant has at least one prior conviction for a serious or
violent felony, the district attorney is required to plead and prove all
known prior felony convictions. Prior felony convictions cannot be used
as part of a plea-bargain.
Now that Mike had the proposal he had Bill Jones submit it to the state
legislature. Right away the bill was sent to the Assembly Public Safety
committee to be approved. This committee is known as a killer of
tough-on-crime bills, and consisted of eight members, Paula Boland,
Richard Rainey, Tom Umberg, Tom Bates, John Burton, Barbara Lee, and
committee chairman Robert Epple. Both Boland and Rainey were
Republicans while the rest were Democrats, and one vacant seat due to
unknown reasons. This committee was moderate or even moderately
conservative, but because Willie Brown had the power to choose
members of the committee he chose those people whom he thought would
sway the vote towards a liberal direction, which did not reflect the
philosophy of the whole assembly. Mike also had asked Fresno
Assemblyman Jim Costa (D) to be a co-author of their proposal, Mike
wanted a bipartisan approach to the legislature. Meaning he wanted to
have both major parties represented in the proposal.
The men had two Republican and two Democratic votes in their favor and
only needed one more vote to pass, but unfortunately they did not get that
one vote because Brown set up the committee and didnt want a
tough-on-crime bill. Berkeley Assemblyman John Burton gave Jones an
option to re-write their proposal the way he sees fit, or have the proposal
taken from the floor again and put to another vote. The problem with the
latter was that if it failed again there would never be another next time.
Jones and Mike Reynolds did neither of the two, their mission now was to
take it straight to the people of the state and find out what they think.
The two men did exactly that, paying for publicity out of their own
pockets. Eventually they did get corporate assistance from organizations
like the NRA (National Rifle Association) and the CCPOA (California
Correctional Peace Officers Association), as well as others. Their efforts
would not be fruitless because they knew that if they could get enough
signatures that the proposal would be put on the November, 1994 election
ballot. The men had hundreds of thousands of signatures that lead to the
induction of the proposal to the ballot as “Prop 184.” The men made a few
minor changes to the proposal but in the end it basically read as before.
The men knew they had to keep it simple because they knew people would
not vote for something they could not understand.
There is a lot of talk about serious and violent felonies in the law and
there are certain offenses that must be met in order to qualify as a serious
or violent felony. The felonies that would fall under both categories
would be those that are beyond misdemeanors and/or carry an extensive
With the passage of “Three strikes” some argued that it would ignite an
increase in violence against law enforcement officers, putting them in
danger as they tried to maintain public safety. The American Civil
Liberties Union argued that criminals facing a life sentence if they were to
be convicted would be far more likely to resist arrest, assault officers and
kill witnesses. Since the enactment of the law violence against law
enforcement officers has not risen but fallen. In the three years prior to the
law assault against law enforcers dropped 14.9% while since the
enactment it has dropped 11.9%, setting a downward trend.
Some studies have argued that the population of prisons and jails will rise
substantially because of the increased prison sentences, limitations on the
ability of repeat offenders to earn credits to reduce time, and prisoners
required to be sentenced to prison rather than jails. Despite predictions to
the contrary, the growth in the prison population since the enactment has
slowed. In the four years prior to the law the prison population increased
by 37%. Since the enactment the prison population has grown only 32%.
That is near the percentage for the nation at 27% excluding California.
While jail populations have increased during this era, the average number
of persons booked over this period has dropped. The average number of
people booked per month in county jails hit a record low in 1995 with
97,589. This is because 6% of criminals are responsible for 70% of all
During the debate over the “Three Strikes law, opponents argued that the
prison system would become overfilled with non-violent offenders
serving life terms. Trying to prove this true a study conducted by the
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in 1996 concluded that 85% of
the people sentenced under the “Three Strikes” law received their third
strike for a non-violent crime. It reported that 192 individuals were
convicted of marijuana possession while only 40 were convicted of
murder, 25 of rape, and 24 of kidnapping. At the end of 1997, Californias
inmate population totaled 152,577. 23.2% of the inmates (35,411), were
imprisoned for second- and third-strike convictions.
There were repeated warnings about the cost to implement the new law,
but few have addressed the other side of the equation and the savings to
the state, in lives and in dollars. Had our 1993 crime rate continued
unaffected over these past few years, nearly 815,000 additional crimes
would have been committed in California, including 217,000+ violent
crimes. We would have suffered more than 4,000 homicide victims;
6000+ women would have been victims of rape. Also the savings in
dollars is between $5.8 billion and $15.5 billion since the enactment of
the “Three Strikes” law.
There has been swift and dramatic impact on crime since the enactment of
the “Three Strikes” law. The crime rate has dropped more than 30%. But
there are other factors that play a part in this reduction like crime
prevention, and community policing. However there has been a significant
drop in the crime rate. Also the predictions about cost, over populating
and others have not come true. With all of the opposition out there trying
to tear this law down I believe that California can not afford to do without
this law because it is saving our state money and lives.Words
/ Pages : 1,865 / 24