Stanford, Calif., September 9, 2013 – The Stanford Law School Three Strikes Project has co-published a new study released today with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund that analyzes the impact of the Three Strikes Reform Act passed by California voters last November.
Proposition 36, which passed with 69.3 percent of the vote in November 2012, revised the California Three Strikes Law to impose life sentences only when new felony convictions are serious or violent. It also allowed for a reduction in the sentences of “three strikes” prisoners currently still serving time.
The report provides data that shows more than 1,000 “three strikes” prisoners have been released from custody under Prop 36, while more than 2,000 additional cases are still pending.
The report’s findings also indicate that the recidivism rate for inmates released post-Prop 36 is, to date, well below the state average with fewer than 2 percent of inmates having been charged with new crimes. The average recidivism rate for non-Prop 36 inmates leaving California prison currently stands at 16 percent.
The report offers three key recommendations:
• California should commit more resources to expedite review of their sentences and end unnecessary delay of cases currently pending.
• Courts should ensure consistent application of Prop 36 throughout the state with uniform standards of review and rules of evidence.
• More public and private resources should be committed to provide services to inmates released under Proposition 36 to assist their reentry to the community and maintain their low recidivism rate.
“The historic passage of Prop 36 overturned long-held conventional wisdom and proved that it is possible to fix our most extreme and unjust crime laws,” said Stanford Professor David Mills, professor of the practice of law at Stanford who co-founded its Three Strikes Project, and is on the Board of Directors of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “Thousands of lives have been changed, millions of dollars have been saved, and California is safer, fairer, and more just – but there’s much more to be done.”
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