Proposition 36 revises the outdated three-strikes law

Passing Proposition 36 would be good for Californians and our tax dollars.

The three-strikes law currently in place states that third-time offenders, no matter how petty or serious their third strike, must be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

If Prop. 36 passes the law will be modified so that non-violent offenders may be sentenced to double the normal time penalty if the third crime is non-violent or non-serious.

However, Prop. 36 would not allow third-time violent or serious offenders the option of a double sentence, instead if convicted at any point of a serious or violent crime; they would be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

This proposition restores the original intent of the three-strikes law by focusing on violent criminals. Repeat offenders of serious or violent crimes get life in prison and nonviolent offenders get twice the ordinary prison sentence. How smart is that?

It also ensures that real criminals like rapists, murderers, and other dangerous people stay in prison for life. In no way, shape or form would any rapist, murder, or child molester benefit from Prop. 36.

The initiative includes a safety clause that prohibits anyone who has past convictions for very violent crimes from receiving any benefit of the change in law, no matter how minor the defendant’s third strike offense.

As far as tax dollars are concerned, it costs an average of about $47,000 per year to incarcerate the average inmate; “lifers” are a different story, costing an average of about $90,000 per year.

According to a state legislative analyst, as of March 2012 an estimated 33,000 inmates were second time offenders and 9,000 were third-time offenders. If Prop. 36 becomes law, it would save taxpayers between $70 and $90 million annually over the next two decades because fewer people would be incarcerated for life.

There would however, be some additional costs related to this proposition. The reevaluating appeals process that non-violent lifers could apply for would cost a few million dollars but it would be a one-time adjustment strictly for court activities related to the resentencing of certain offenders.

Prop. 36 could give non-violent third-time offenders a chance to get their lives back on track. Not everyone deserves a life sentence so vote YES on Prop. 36 to make sure we keep the real criminals behind bars.