California Voters to Decide Fate of “Three Strikes” Law

Supporters of reforming California’s “three strikes” law were successful in getting the required signatures so the initiative can be placed on the state ballot this November, the San Jose Mercury News reported June 7.

Under the “three strikes” law, individuals can receive long sentences for non-violent crimes, such as shoplifting and petty theft, if they are repeat offenders.

California’s ballot initiative, called the Three Strikes and Child Protection Act of 2004, eases the current law by requiring an individual to be convicted of a violent or serious felony to qualify for a “third strike” sentence of 25 years to life.

“We’re not being soft on crime,” said Jim Benson, co-chairman of the group backing the initiative. “There’s not going to be a blood bath. We’re not talking about violent criminals, we’re talking about minor offenders.”

But opponents of the initiative said it would lead to the release of dangerous criminals who should be in prison.

“If this were to pass, it would do an enormous amount of damage,” said Mike Reynolds of Fresno, the father of a murdered teen who helped write the state’s three-strikes law.