all second and third strikers are in prison for violent
crimes. More than 65 percent of those convicted under the
three-strikes law were arrested for drug-related offenses.
These people do not belong in our prison system. They belong
in recovery programs. If these third-strikers were in rehabilitation,
taxpayers would not be dishing out $8 billion a year to
incarcerate them, and instead of being isolated from society,
once recovered, these people could begin contributing to
Strikes in California is especially brutal when determining
a felon’s fate. The State’s version of the sentence measure
makes it so repeat offenders’ sentences can be doubled or
tripled for committing any felony.
to a recent study released by the Washington, D.C. based
Justice Policy Institute, such broad use of the word “any”
has resulted in one-fourth of our prison population being
third strikers - the majority of them black and Hispanic.
Studies show that blacks have been imprisoned under the
three-strikes law at 10 times that of whites, while the
rate for Hispanics is nearly 80 percent greater than for
family member of mine is a prime example of a nonviolent
criminal wasting away as a third striker. Addicted to drugs,
he began stealing and selling other people’s possessions
for money to supply his habit. Reduced to living in his
car when the police found him, he had not slept for days
and suffered horrible withdrawals after his arrest.
to possessing drugs and the burglaries he admitted to, at
the age of 27, he was a third striker upon entering the
prison system. With his crimes committed to feed a hungry
addiction, he seemed more like a drug rehabilitation candidate
vs. a “three-strikes-you’re-out” inmate. Nonetheless, he
joined the other 672 drug-possessed/affected/addicted third-strikers
in the State of California - a number that is greater than
the number of third-strikers in prison for second-degree
murder, assault with a deadly weapon and rape combined.
strikes needs to be amended in California to apply to violent
crimes only. Drug abuse will not go away via this sentence
measure. The State needs to face drug problems by opening
doors toward rehabilitation vs. shutting life out via prison
walls. Throwing men and women with substance abuse problems
into penitentiaries not only dehumanizes them, but also
provides them little to no opportunity to improve themselves
as human beings. Their lives are worth more than that.
the day three strikes apply only to violent crimes, tens
of thousands of future birthdays will be had in prison.
No lives being celebrated, just thrown away year after year.
Families will continue to be torn apart, and worst of all,
we will continue to allow our children to visit their addicted
parents, who we are not willing to help recover.