25,000 3-Strikes Prisoners May Be Released Under Prop 57
Proposition 57 seeks to correct what many see as patently over-zealous applications of the California 3-Strikes law. When 3-Strikes first passed in the 1990s, Santos Reyes, an early defendant to suffer a conviction where the judge had no discretion on how to sentence him was a man convicted of pretending to be his cousin in order to help him pass the written test (20 multiple choice questions), for a California driver’s license. Other egregious examples abound including one of the first such cases that involved stealing a hammer from a hardware store. A crime commonly referred to as shoplifting, which today would likely result in either a ticket or a dismissal after some minimal counseling or labor.
Under the new law, many previously sentenced under the 3-strikes law whose crime was non-violent will be eligible for resentencing. Coming before a judge for resentencing will be available to prisoners so long as they have served a normal sentence. In other words, nobody is being released without punishment. Prisoners will not be released without serving the time that corresponds to the crime they were convicted of.
Many critics of Prop 57 argue that the way the law defines “non-violent” crime is full of holes and could result in the release of many people convicted of what most of us would consider violent crimes. What they don’t go on to say however, is that this law simply allows them to ask to be resentenced. A judge would still have to order them released. This judicial discretion is the gatekeeper to the law. Add to that the provision that also requires these prisoners to have served the applicable sentence sans 3-strikes, and it’s not like their just opening the gates and letting people out.
This law is not a response to over-crowding, but it isn’t as though this won’t help either. Politicians are often rue to spend the political capital necessary to make such changes in criminal law reform. They fear that their opponents, come election time will label them as despicably “soft on crime.” This is why such change often takes decades despite a general consensus reform is needed. Laws like the death penalty, 3-strikes and Meagan’s Law have all been touted as needing fixing since the 20th century. This proposition, poorly penned or not is fiscally sound, and a significant improvement in the morals and ethics department for the State of California.
The Perlman Law Group has been preparing to assist those in need with their sentencing or resentencing petitions and hearings should this proposition pass on November 8. 57 is written to take effect immediately, and so such requests for resentencing may be filed on November 9 to get ahead of the rush which may burden the courts for several months. For some of these prisoners, finding witnesses and evidence to support their petition for release may be difficult after so many years, but the Perlman Law Group works with some excellent private investigators to assist in recovering what is needed for a successful bid for release under Proposition 57.
Perlman Law Group