Proposition 36 on the Nov. 6 ballot aims to provide more reasonable punishment to nonviolent criminals and keep serious criminals in prison by making changes to the “Three Strikes Law” in California. Under Three Strikes, a person commits three or more felonies can receive life in prison even if the third crime is not violent.
“The Three Strikes Law should be reformed because the punishment is disproportionate to the crime committed and keeping non-violent criminals in prison for the rest of their lives costs way too much,” said teacher Mark Mladinich.
Three Strikes, passed in the 1990s, was meant to promote public safety and keep dangerous criminals off the streets. Not only does it apply rapists, murderers, armed robbers, etc., but it also applies to those who have committed non-serious crimes like being caught with drugs or petty theft.
Prop. 36 would save California millions that could be used towards building better educations by allowing offenders, currently sentenced to life imprisonment, to petition the court for a new and reduced sentence.
“If you’re non-violent, then you don’t really deserve a lifetime in prison. It’s unfair and they should change it,” said junior Stephanie Avalos.
Senior Billy Moeller agreed, and said Three Strikes needs to be changed. “Prop. 36 is good because it makes major crimes more punishable than minor crimes. It only seems fair that way,” he said.
Sophomore Jessica Xie opposed changes to the law, reasoning that Three Strikes was made to protect. “Why keep releasing a villain back out on the streets after repeating the same crime multiple times? It should be applied to all criminals, because one day my future child could be affected by one of those drug dealers or thieves. Think about the children,” she said.
Prop 36 ensures that repeat, non-violent offenders would receive double the usual sentence instead of a life sentence. If offenders have committed any past violent crimes, no matter how small the third conviction is, the initiative prevents them from receiving any benefit from the change in the law.