First, a controlling fact. California’s much-reviled “three-strikes” law bears no resemblance to what you’ve read about it in the news. How much no resemblance? Lots of no resemblance:
- Prosecutors and judges have discretion in applying the law. Discretion means “not draconian.” Discretions means that it isn’t really a “three-strikes” law but merely a recidivist statute that permits, but in no way requires, application of its sentencing guidelines. Someone can have 20 strikes and the law still won’t necessarily be applied. Someone can rape and molest dozens of women and children and still not get three strikes sentencing. The reality of criminal prosecution is that, in virtually all cases, when people face multiple charges (barring a few such as murder) those charges are telescoped down to one or two, and the others offenses are simply not prosecuted. The tiny number of people facing three-strikes sentencing are extremely flagrant offenders who have committed dozens or hundreds — not two-and-a-half — violent crimes.
- There are no people serving life sentences “merely” for stealing Cheetos or a VCR tape. Those are myths.
- Prosecutors use this recidivist sentencing law so rarely that most apply it just a few times a year, and even then, it frequently doesn’t lead to 25-to-life. But media reporting frequently stops at the original charge.
- The lies the media tells about “three-strikes” are legion. The word” strike” better describes the media’s flailing confabulations about recidivism sentencing than any aspect of sentencing itself.
There is a great website by Mike Reynolds, an expert on California’s three-strikes law and its application (application being 95% of the law, no matter what they tell you in school). I urge you to read his site and support his efforts:
Mike Reynolds debunks myths about three-strikes laws increasing costs for the state. He proves that prison growth did not occur because of three-strikes laws; he explains who does and does not get enhanced sentencing, and he factors in the financial savings arising from reduction of crime arising directly from the prolific offenders who are sentenced under these laws. In other words, he does what journalists and politicians ought to be doing, but do not.
From Mike’s site:
What is sometimes mistaken (or misunderstood) is the level of violence and brutality, as compared to the value of something rather minor. My daughter, Kimber, was murdered over a “minor” purse snatching. In fact, most murders are over little or “minor value” issues. Keep in mind, every “Three Strikes” case is closely reviewed by prosecutors who must prove the prior convictions in court. In the event that the defendant is found guilty of the current felony offense, the judge can, and does, review the merits of the case to decide whether or not to apply the full “25 to Life”, or reduce the case to a second strike.
On average, only (1) out of every (9) eligible third strikers gets a “25 to Life” sentence. The average third striker has (5) prior serious or violent felony convictions.
Meanwhile, anti-three-strikes activism is an astroturfed social movement funded for years through various channels by billionaire financier George Soros. The Los Angeles Times reports that Soros just gave $500,000 to the effort to get an anti-three-strikes measure on the California ballot in November. The other major funding of the ballot initiative is Stanford Law Professor David Mills. I wonder if anyone’s done an audit to see how much educational taxpayer money (even private schools rely largely on public funds) Professor Mills has used for his political activism. His “academic” website is basically an advertisement for activism. Why do California residents put up with paying for this guy’s hobbies? Can’t he take his druggie-yellow sunglasses off for a photo for his law school? Is that too much to ask? What is that, a denim shirt? Would a suit kill him?
“Professor” David Mills, Stanford University, Photographed on a Sunny Day.
Maybe he dresses this way to conceal the fact that he made a fortune in private investment firms before picking up a starring role at the previously dignified Stanford Law posing as a denim-wearing soldier for the right of thugs, rapists, and home invaders to continue their prolific criminal careers against non-investment firm types who can’t afford personal security like Mills’ and Soros’.
David Mills doesn’t even have a real vitae. He’s published four editorials (one, risibly, in Slate; one, risibly, in MSN Slate) and one law review article in his own school’s law review, co-authored by a real scholar.
My goodness, the things that get you a law professorship at Stanford these days!
Anyway, back to the three-strikes campaign. Below you’ll find some articles I’ve written on the real criminal careers of the more famous poster-children of Soros’ and Mills’ cause. It took decades for ordinary people and crime victims to create enough traction in the justice system to merely punish a small percentage of prolific criminals. Now we stand to lose such progress. These men — sheltered by their extreme wealth, capable of avoiding the consequences of their actions, are trying to empty the prisons in order to make themselves feel virtuous while spitting in the faces of law abiding Americans. It’s a consequence-free titilation for them, on your backs and the safety of your loved ones.
If you’re in California, the time to push back is now. George Soros and David Mills merely have money. We have the truth. We need letters to the editor every time someone makes a false claim about saving money on prison costs, or cries alligator tears about Supermaxes cluttered with Cheetos-stealing Jean Valjeans and other nonsensical lies.
Here are links to just a few of my posts on three-strikes laws and other recidivist measures under attack by George Soros: