California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law could soon see a serious overhaul, as backers of an initiative to amend it have received authorization to gather signatures necessary to put the initiative on the ballot, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Wednesday.
The amendment would remove the crimes of burglary and robbery that don’t actually result in significant bodily harm from the list of crimes classified as violent felonies, even if the defendant was armed. It would also require resentencing of inmates serving life sentences with possible parole if they would have received different sentences under this measure.
Life sentences would still be imposed for non-violent crimes if a prior offense was for rape, child molestation or murder.
Thomas R. Loversky and Victoria Johnson, President and Director respectively of We The People Org and authors of what’s been dubbed “The People’s Fair Sentencing & Public Safety Act of 2018,” wrote in a letter of intent last year that the goal of the reform is to save money on housing inmates sentenced to life. They also said that Proposition 57 did nothing to help nonviolent offenders.
“Failure to properly address the prison crisis has led to a decline in budgeting for education, public health care, social programs and other areas of concern,” the group’s letter said.
The initiative would apply the savings from reduced incarceration to schools, colleges, prison rehabilitation programs and youth crime prevention programs. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office and the Department of Finance, that money could eventually exceed $100 million annually.
However, the analysis also found there would be increased county costs that could exceed $10 million annually, primarily due to increased county community supervision populations.
Backers of the Three Strikes initiative have until July 16 to collect valid signatures from 365,880 registered voters to qualify the measure for the November ballot.