Proposition 36 would change California's three strikes law and release of thousands of inmates

Opponents say current law works

BAKERSFIELD. Calif - Proposition 36 would change California’s three strikes law and allow thousands of inmates in prison to apply for resentencing.

Right now the three strikes law can send someone to prison for life, even if the third felony is not serious or violent.

Those in favor of Prop 36 said that was not the original intent of the law.

Josie Salas said her brother is in prison serving 25 years to life for joyriding.

"I feel he has been in there too long; 16 years is too long for joyriding," Salas said.

Salas is part of the local group in favor of Prop 36. She said her brother is now 53 years old and suffers from diabetes and hepatitis.

If Prop 36 passes it would allow about 4,000 three-strikers like Sala's brother to petition to be resentenced.

"It’s going to create huge amounts of work for the courts, for prosecutors, for defense attorneys," said Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green.

The law would also mean a person couldn't get their third strike unless their offense was a serious or violent felony.

Those against changing the three strikes law said it’s not about how serious the third strike is.

"You are not being sentenced to 25 to life for stealing a bike. You are being sentenced to 25 to life because over your adult life you have committed at least two serious and violent felonies," Green said.

Those in favor of Prop 36 said changing three strikes will make our prisons more humane and more cost effective and the millions they said it will save can be used for schools.

"We don't want them to get rid of three strikes we just want it to be reformed because it’s too harsh," Salas said.

Salas feels the last attempt to change the law in 2004 failed because voters didn't understand it.

"I know it didn't pass because a lot of people thought that all these murderers, these rapists and child molesters were going to get out. That’s why I think that it didn't pass," Salas said.

Those who support the change said that’s not the case and any three strikers with rapes and murders on their records will not be eligible for release.

Those against 36 said the current three strikes law works.

"If you look at the figures for violent crimes, they were down and three strikes has had to of played a role in that," Green said.

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