The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, March 05, 2004

Ten years of three strikes in California

As a piece of robbery by the Golden State's prison goons, represented to perfection by the real Heart of Darkness, the CCPOA, three strikes makes Willie Sutton look like Winona Ryder.

A new report by the Justice Policy Institute gives a breakdown of the numbers (p6): of around 150,000 state prisoners [1], some 7,000 have three-strikes (mandatory life) sentences; around 35,000 have two-strikes (doubled) sentences [2].

The population of strikers has risen ten-fold in ten years (p7); 65% of strikers were doing time for a non-violent offence (p9); the rate of strikers amongst the black population was ten times the rate in the white (p12): 7 per thousand of the CA black population is serving time under a two- or three-strikes sentence!

Where is the white-hot outrage of the sort of nice liberals who haunt Kos and Atrios? I've seen no sign of of any incipient wave of protest. It seems that homo-marriage hits the spot, humanity rotting in the bowels of Mike Jimenez's cash-cow - not so much. (None of those delightful photo-ops, for a start!)

The putrid opinion of Injustice O'Connor in Ewing v California, which upheld the wretched system in March 2003; a reprint of Greg Krikorian's LA Times piece, and Sac Bee and SF Chronicle pieces - all based on the JPI report.

(I came in with TalkLeft.)

Oh - and the payoff for Mikey and his goons? According to the report (p26), the marginal effect on incarceration costs for existing and released strikers is around $5 billion. No breakdown showing how much of that is CCPOA members' wages already paid out: I would guess the dollar amount is significant.

And how much of those extra wages have been kicked back to politicians?

  1. Some numbers go up to September 2003, others to June 2003 - this is as annoying as hell when one is trying to tie up the numbers quickly - as I suspect most users of the report will be doing!

  2. The applicable law is ยง1170.12(c) Cal Penal Code- may be temporary URL - search page is here.

MORE (March 9)

A couple of quotes from Willie Brown I'd lost that have turned up again.

Brown, back in 1994, was Speaker of the Assembly; it was the aftermath of the Polly Klaas murder and, it seems, Sacramento was full of headless chickens:
People are frightened, people are real frightened.

You're talking about a group of people of zero courage. Not even Willie Brown, regardless of his persuasive powers, could turn that around or alter that course. I would be shouting in the wind.

It needs little imagination to see that the CCPOA would be in like Flynn in such a situation. Mutla Ridge all over again.

Meanwhile, back on the substance...

The SF Chronicle notes (March 8) a survey by Bill Jones (author of the law, and now candidate for US Senator) suggests that
the longer sentences for repeat felons have prevented more than 2 million crimes - the entire statewide decline in crime since 1994 -- and saved the government and potential victims $28.5 billion.

I can find no sign of the text of the survey online. Hard to comment without seeing the basis of the numbers, if any.

The Chronicle piece also mentions that Polly Klaas' grandfather, Joe Klass, is in a group promoting an initiative for November to count serious and violent crimes only as second and third strikes.

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