According to Stanford’s Criminal Defense Clinic, “Over 4,000 inmates in California are serving life sentences under the Three Strikes law for committing non-violent crimes.”
This article first appeared at CAIVN:
In a recent San Francisco Chronicle article, Peter Mandel, a second-year law student, relates the story of Mark, who has been serving 14 years for shoplifting. As Mandel explains, “Had this been [Mark’s] first crime, his maximum penalty would have been $1,000 and six months in jail.
Instead, because Mark had committed two burglaries a dozen years earlier, when he was 19 years old, he may be in prison for life.” This hardly seems fair to Mark, or like an efficient use of scarce state resources.
Because of California’s Three Strikes law, the judge was able to classify Mark’s petty theft as a felony instead of a misdemeanor, and sentence him to life imprisonment.
Because of California’s moratorium on the death penalty, Mark’s life sentence is the harshest possible criminal penalty he can face. In other words, he’s serving the same sentence that a serial killer would serve in the state of California.
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