⚡ California 3 Strikes Summary
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Three Strikes Laws in California
Serious Offense. State law P. Sentence Enhancement. Examples include the addition of one year for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and an additional three years for an offender who commits a violent felony and who has served a prior prison term for a violent felony. The Three Strikes law is an example of a sentence enhancement because strikers receive additional time in prison for their current offense because of their prior convictions for serious or violent crimes. As a result of these provisions, the Three Strikes law significantly increases the length of time some repeat offenders spend in state prison. For example, consider a defendant who has prior convictions for assault on a police officer and burglary of a residence, both considered serious or violent crimes.
Subsequently, he is convicted for receiving stolen property, a nonserious and nonviolent felony. Before the enactment of Three Strikes, he would typically have served two years for the property offense. Under the Three Strikes law, he would be sentenced to life in prison. Figure 2 illustrates how sentencing under the Three Strikes law differs from the prior law under different scenarios of current and prior offenses. Since the enactment of the Three Strikes law in , there have been a number of legal challenges to its provision, summarized in the text box below. The most significant of these challenges concerned the constitutionality of the measure. In addition, the law appeared to grant prosecutorial, or executive, discretion while limiting judicial discretion in sentencing, which raised constitutional questions about separation of powers.
As a result of these and other concerns, there have been a number of challenges to various aspects of the law. While some court rulings have limited the law, other rulings have upheld most provisions of the law. As regards the issue of cruel and unusual punishment, the U. Supreme Court ruled in Ewing v. California that it is constitutional to sentence a repeat offender to an indeterminate life sentence for the commission of a nonserious or nonviolent felony.
In People v. Superior Court Romero , the state Supreme Court ruled that Three Strikes did not eliminate judicial discretion to dismiss prior serious or violent felony convictions. Numerous other important issues relating to the implementation of the law have been resolved through the courts. The major legal issues raised by challengers to the law have now been addressed by the courts, and the legal outcomes ultimately have had significant implications affecting the implementation of the law. In particular, the decisions permitting the application of the Three Strikes law to nonserious, nonviolent offenses has allowed many offenders to be sentenced to prison for extended periods, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars.
These impacts are discussed in more detail below. Ewing v. The Ewing case involved a repeat offender sentenced to prison for 25 years to life under the Three Strikes law for stealing golf clubs from a Los Angeles country club, a nonserious, nonviolent offense. In the past, the court had interpreted the Eighth Amendment to prohibit the imposition of a sentence that is grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime.
In , the U. People v. On June 20, , the state Supreme Court ruled that the court has the discretion to dismiss prior serious or violent felony convictions under the Three Strikes law. In the Fuhrman case, the trial court sentenced Fuhrman to a total prison term of 58 years to life under the Three Strikes law. The defendant appealed claiming that the trial court should have dismissed one of the prior convictions since both convictions arose from a single court proceeding. In , the state Supreme Court upheld the lower court decision. Impact on the Prison Population. Since its implementation, the Three Strikes law has had a major effect on the make-up of the prison population. Since , the courts have sent over 80, second strikers and 7, third strikers to state prison.
More than half of these second strikers have served their time and have been released. As of December 31, , there were almost 43, inmates serving time in prison under the Three Strikes law, making up about 26 percent of the total prison population. Of the striker population, more than 35, are second strikers, and about 7, are third strikers. Figure 3 shows the growth of the second and third striker inmate population from through As the figure shows, the striker population in prison grew quickly in the first years of the law. However, the rate of growth has slowed significantly in recent years as many second strikers complete their sentence and are paroled.
In , analysts predicted that Three Strikes would result in over , additional inmates in state prison by Clearly, that rate of growth has not occurred. A number of factors have probably contributed to a lower prison population, including the use of discretion by judges and district attorneys to dismiss prior strikes in some cases. While courts do not track how often such discretion is used, some surveys of district attorneys conducted by Jennifer Walsh of California State University, Los Angeles, for example, suggest that prior strikes might be dismissed in 25 percent to 45 percent of third strike cases, resulting in shorter sentences for those offenders. The most common offenses for which strikers are currently serving time in prison include robbery, burglary, assault, and possession of drugs.
Approximately 37 percent of strikers were convicted for crimes against persons, such as robbery and assault. Figure 4 shows the striker population by offense category with the most common offenses listed. Based on information provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation CDCR -formerly the Department of Corrections, 44 percent of all inmate strikers were convicted of a serious or violent current offense, while 56 percent were convicted of nonserious or nonviolent offenses. It is likely that these figures somewhat under-report the percentage of strikers whose current offense activity was actually serious or violent.
This could occur in some cases because district attorneys choose to prosecute strikers for nonserious, nonviolent offenses that may be easier to prove in court knowing that the Three Strikes sentence enhancement will still apply. The extent to which this occurs is unknown. Figure 5 shows the number of striker inmates in prison convicted for serious and violent crimes as compared to the number convicted for nonserious, nonviolent offenses.
While more than half of the strikers in prison are there because their current offenses are nonserious and nonviolent, strikers do have more serious criminal histories, on average, than other state inmates. For example, second and third strikers have been convicted for an average of three prior felony offenses, including an average of two prior serious or violent felonies.
By comparison, the rest of the inmate population has an average of one prior felony offense, including 0. Figure 6 compares the offense histories of all strikers-as well as second and third strikers-and other state inmates. Even those strikers who are in prison because their current offenses were nonserious and nonviolent have lengthier criminal histories than nonstrikers.
Second and third strikers whose current offenses are nonserious and nonviolent average four and five prior felony offenses, respectively, compared to one prior felony offense on average for the rest of the inmate population. Increased Length of Prison Stay. Because the law increases the length of sentences, it has raised the average length of stay for the prison population. The average time served by all felons before their first release to parole was 21 months in , prior to the implementation of the Three Strikes law. By , this average had increased by 19 percent to 25 months. In part, this increase has occurred because second strikers serve longer sentences than the average for all prison inmates. Second strikers released to parole in served 43 months on average.
In addition, inmates serving life sentences for a third strike conviction are in prison for longer than would have been the case in the absence of the Three Strikes law, particularly those whose current offense is nonserious or nonviolent. The cost of their additional time in prison because of Three Strikes is difficult to estimate because many of them would have returned to prison even in the absence of Three Strikes for new offenses or parole violations. In addition, because third strikers are serving indeterminate sentences, it is not clear when they will be released from prison.
It is worth noting that no third strikers have been released from prison, and the earliest any are eligible for release to parole is Once third strikers become eligible for parole consideration, this will likely create significant additional workload and require additional resources for the board. The number of lifer hearings is projected to more than double from about 4, held by the Board of Prison Terms in Inmate Population Aging. The average age of the inmate population has risen from 32 to 36 since Moreover, the number of inmates 50 years of age and older has increased from about 5, to 16, between and This aging prison population is likely due to two factors.
The first and probably more significant factor is the enactment of sentencing laws such as the Three Strikes law to provide longer terms, and in some cases life terms. Such laws, designed to incarcerate offenders for longer periods, result in a larger and older prison population in the long run. Thus, as the third striker population grows and ages-probably at least until the overall prison population will likely grow older, as well. The second factor is that the aging of the prison population simply reflects the aging of the citizenry as a whole. The aging of the prison population over the past decade has the potential for significant fiscal consequences.
As inmates age, the cost of housing them increases due to age-related illness and the associated health care costs, as well as the security and transportation costs of moving these inmates between prisons and local hospitals. Therefore, as the striker population continues to grow and age in prison, the state costs to incarcerate them will also continue to escalate. Racial Composition of Strikers. African Americans make up the largest group of second and third strikers 37 percent , followed by Hispanics 33 percent , and whites 26 percent.
This racial composition is similar to that in the total prison population. However, African Americans make up 45 percent of the third striker population, which is 15 percent higher than in the total prison population. Figure 7 shows the racial composition of the striker population. Plaintiffs file motions requesting review by Judge Wilken of some of their recently denied motions regarding enforcement of the settlement. April 12, Plaintiffs file motions requesting review by Judge Wilken of some of their recently denied motions regarding enforcement of the settlement.
March 29, Judge issues orders denying plaintiffs' enforcement motions. March 29, Judge issues orders denying plaintiffs' enforcement motions. November 20, CCR and co-counsel file motion to extend the settlement agreement. November 20, CCR and co-counsel file motion to extend the settlement agreement. October 13, Plaintiffs file motions regarding settlement enforcement. October 13, Plaintiffs file motions regarding settlement enforcement. January 26, Court grants final approval of settlement agreement.
January 26, Court grants final approval of settlement agreement. October 14, Court grants preliminary approval of settlement. October 14, Court grants preliminary approval of settlement. October 6, Preliminary settlement approval hearing. October 6, Preliminary settlement approval hearing. September 1, Landmark settlement ends indeterminate solitary confinement in prisons throughout California. September 1, Landmark settlement ends indeterminate solitary confinement in prisons throughout California. Related Files Summary of Ashker v. Governor of California Settlement Terms Settlement stipulation. March 13, CCR and co-counsel submit expert reports. March 13, CCR and co-counsel submit expert reports.
Related Files Collins Expert Report. March 9, Judge issues written order granting our motion for leave to file supplemental complaint. March 9, Judge issues written order granting our motion for leave to file supplemental complaint. February 12, Court hears oral argument on our motion for leave to file supplemental complaint. February 12, Court hears oral argument on our motion for leave to file supplemental complaint. Related Files Supplemental Complaint. June 2, Court certifies case as class action. June 2, Court certifies case as class action. The court certifies the case as a class action, identifying an Eighth Amendment class of prisoners subject to prolonged solitary confinement at the Pelican Bay SHU and a due process class of prisoners in the SHU under old gang validation policies.
October 9, September 26, Court holds hearing on motion for class certification. September 26, Court holds hearing on motion for class certification. August 8, We file a reply brief in support of our motion for class certification. August 8, We file a reply brief in support of our motion for class certification. July 18, State files opposition to motion for class certification. July 18, State files opposition to motion for class certification. July 8, Beginning of third Pelican Bay hunger strike. July 8, Beginning of third Pelican Bay hunger strike. On the first day of the strike, 30, people in prisons around California refuse meals.
After 60 days, in response to promises by California lawmakers to hold legislative hearings on solitary confinement, the strike is suspended on September 5, May 2, CCR and co-counsel file motion for class certification. May 2, CCR and co-counsel file motion for class certification. We move to certify the case as a class action, seeking to represent all prisoners subject to unconstitutional treatment at the Pelican Bay SHU.
Judge denies State's motion to dismiss. April 9, Judge denies State's motion to dismiss. Siding with the prisoners, the court refuses to dismiss their claims and allows the case to proceed. January 17, CCR and co-counsel file opposition to motion to dismiss. January 17, CCR and co-counsel file opposition to motion to dismiss. December 17, State files motion to dismiss. Some states include additional, lesser offenses that one would not normally see as violent. One application of a three-strikes law was the Leonardo Andrade case in California in He was charged under California's three-strikes law because of his criminal history concerning drugs and other burglaries.
Because of his past criminal records, he was sentenced to 50 years in prison with no parole after this last burglary of K-Mart. Although this sentencing was disputed by Erwin Chemerinsky , who represented Andrade, as cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment , the Supreme Court ruled in support for the life sentencing. In , Sioux City, Iowa native Tommy Lee Farmer , a professional criminal who had served 43 years in prison for murder and armed robbery was the first person in the United States to be convicted under the federal three-strikes law when he was sentenced to life in prison for an attempted robbery at an eastern Iowa convenience store. He was prosecuted by Stephen J.
Rapp , a US Attorney appointed by Clinton. Another example of the three-strikes law involves Timothy L. Tyler who, in at age 24, was sentenced to life in prison without parole when his third conviction a federal offense triggered the federal three-strikes law, even though his two prior convictions were not considered violent, and neither conviction resulted in any prison time served. Analyzing the effect of the Three-Strikes legislation as a means of deterrence and incapacitation , a study found that the Three-Strikes Law did not have a very significant effect on deterrence of crime,  but also that this ineffectiveness may be due to the diminishing marginal returns associated with having pre-existing repeat offender laws in place.
The study concluded that the three-strikes policy was deterring recidivists from committing crimes. A study written by Robert Parker, director of the Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies at UC Riverside, states that violent crime began falling almost two years before California's three-strikes law was enacted in The study argues that the decrease in crime is linked to lower alcohol consumption and unemployment. A study from the Vera Institute of Justice in New York examined the effectiveness of incapacitation under all forms of sentencing. However, this action would be extremely costly to implement. Another study found that three-strikes laws discourage criminals from committing misdemeanors for fear of a life prison sentence.
Although this deters crime and contributes to lower crime rates, the laws may possibly push previously convicted criminals to commit more serious offenses. The study's author argues that this is so because under such laws, felons realize that they could face a long jail sentence for their next crime, and therefore they have little to lose by committing serious crimes rather than minor offenses. Through these findings, the study weighs both the pros and cons for the law. NZ First had indicated its opposition to overturning the three-strikes bill, prompting Justice Minister Andrew Little to abandon the attempt.
Some criticisms of three-strikes laws are that they clog the court system with defendants taking cases to trial in an attempt to avoid life sentences, and clog jails with defendants who must be detained while waiting for these trials because the likelihood of a life sentence makes them a flight risk. Life imprisonment is also an expensive correctional option, and potentially inefficient given that many prisoners serving these sentences are elderly and therefore both costly to provide health care services to, and statistically at low risk of recidivism.
Dependents of prisoners serving long sentences may also become burdensome on welfare services. Prosecutors have also sometimes evaded the three-strikes laws by processing arrests as parole violations rather than new offenses, or by bringing misdemeanor charges when a felony charge would have been legally justified. Likewise, there is potential for witnesses to refuse to testify, and juries to refuse to convict, if they want to keep a defendant from receiving a life sentence; this can introduce disparities in punishments, defeating the goal of treating third-time offenders uniformly. Three-strikes laws have also been criticized for imposing disproportionate penalties and focusing too much on street crime rather than white-collar crime.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Three strikes law. Law providing more severe penalties for repeat offenders. This article is about the criminal justice law. For Internet disconnection policy, see Graduated response. For other uses of the term "Three Strikes", see Three Strikes disambiguation. Conviction Acquittal Not proven 3 Directed verdict. Capital punishment Execution warrant. Imprisonment Life imprisonment Indefinite imprisonment Three-strikes law. Criminal defenses Criminal law Evidence Civil procedure. Law portal. This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.MGM Distribution Co. California 3 Strikes Summary Expert Report. Runtime 1h 18min.