three strikes law

Vote YES on Prop 36: Amend the Three Strikes Law

America's prison problem (Great VIDEO)

Why does the US put so many people behind bars and what lies behind California's new push for leniency?

last Modified: 01 Nov 2012 14:40

By filmmakers Michael Montgomery and Monica Lam

The US locks up more people than any other country in the world, spending over $80billion each year to keep some two million prisoners behind bars. Over the past three decades, tough sentencing laws have contributed to a doubling of the country's prison population, with laws commonly known as 'three strikes and you're out' mandating life sentences for a wide range of crimes.

But a clear sign that Americans are rethinking crime and punishment is a voter's initiative on California's November ballot called Proposition 36 that seeks to reform the state's three-strikes law. Some 27 states have three-strikes laws patterned after California's version, which was one of the first to be enacted in the country.

Since it was passed in 1994, nearly 9,000 felons have been convicted in California under the law.

One of them is Norman Williams, a 49-year-old African-American man who was a crack addict living on the streets. He was convicted of burglarising an empty home and later stealing an armload of tools from an art studio. His third strike: filching a jack from a tow truck in Long Beach. His fate sealed under California's three-strikes law, Williams was sent to a maximum security prison [for a life sentence] alongside murderers, rapists and other violent criminals.

"I never wanted to do my whole life in prison. Nobody wants to be caged like that," Williams says.

Williams was lucky. After 13 years behind bars, his case was reviewed by a judge and he was released. He is one of about two dozen 'three strikers' who have won sentence reductions through the work of a Stanford University law clinic founded by Michael Romano. In Williams' case, the prosecutor actually agreed that the original sentence was too harsh. An idea emerged from Romano's work: Why not draft a ballot initiative to ensure that sentences like Williams' will not be repeated?

"When people originally passed the three-strikes law in 1994 the campaigns were about keeping serious and violent murderers, child molesters in prison for the rest of their lives," Romano says. "I think that's what people want and are kind of shocked to hear that people have been sentenced to life for petty theft."

Killing of Kerry Baxter Junior, by Anita Wills July 2011

See petition

and article in POOR Magazine

My name is Anita Wills, and I am writing about my son, Kerry Baxter Senior and my grandson, Kerry Baxter Junior. My son, Kerry Senior, received a sentence of sixty-six years, in 2001, under three strikes. He was accused of killing an innocent bystander, after an altercation with a twenty year old and his gang. The Detective in charge was Oakland Homicide Detective Brian Maderias, who took over from Detective Longmire. In fact Longmire was looking at Jahmani Jones and had arrested him. When Maderias took over the case he and the DA gave blanket immunity to Jahmani Jones, and focused on my son. I now know that Jones was being used as an informant for a Documentary on Oakland Street Gangs. The Documentary starred none other then Sgt (nowLieutenant), Brian Maderias. Jones was on Felony Parole in Maderias County and yet hanging out in East Oakland. During his Blanket Immunity Jones continued to rob and assault citizens of Oakland. My son also had a Felony on his record from when he was eighteen years old. He shot a young man in the shoulder, AFTER OPD told him that this young man killed his friend. We later found out that his friend was very much alive, and the bullet only grazed his skull. 

 

Kerry was getting on the right path and worked for Naval Air Station, as a Journey Level Mechanic, and as a Journey Level Carpenter. When he was arrested Kerry was days away from going to work on the Bay Bridge. Although Madeiras knew this about Kerry he told the newspapers that Kerry was a Gang Member and drug dealer. When he was arrested Kerry was thirty-one years old and a father to two young sons. His case has been appealed through the States Court and upheld, and he is now in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Three Strikes Laws, Prison Slavery, Private Prisons: excerpts from The DISH

~Venue for an Artist...three strikes...by devorah major
~Bit of History...Three Strikes You're Out 
~Hood Notes...Three Strikes Caused This Prison Problem...by Larry Gerston, Ph.D.  
~News You Use...Private Prisons: Greed and Corruption   ~Politics Y2K11...Florida's Racist New Law...By Mansfield Frazier
~Disgruntled

Venue for an Artist / three strikes

By devorah major


three strikes you're out

and the return of the chain gang

a rose by any other name

when you think

of the american institution of slavery

do you think of history

black history

do you think of stories of slave ships

bodies pressed together head to toe

death and misery stories of long ago

auction blocks

flesh groped and pushed

weighed in

people renamed

chained, beaten and confined

and turned from human into commodity

when you think of slavery

do you think of then

well then

what should we call it now

when men and women

chained ankle to ankle

wrist to wrist

neck to waist

are taken to a place

where they are

confined in quarters

in blocks

in cells

strike one

what do you call it

when you take these

sometimes chained

and very confined people

and then give them a new name

be it toby or B253476

be it mammy or G714280

strike two

what should we call it

when these renamed confined

chained humans

these sons...these fathers

these mothers

these daughters

these brothers

these sisters

are told that they

will never again be free

and that they will have to work

for the room they are locked in

the clothes they are made to wear

the food they eat

and for you

what should we call it

when we know

that the constitution's

13th amendment outlaws

involuntary servitude

"except as a punishment for crime

whereof the party shall have been

duly convicted"

strike three

what should we call it

if you ask me

it sounds too much like

a different brand of slavery

Too Many Laws, Too Many Prisoners

[article in The Economist!]

Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little

Jul 22nd 2010 | Spring, Texas


THREE pickup trucks pulled up outside George Norris’s home in Spring, Texas. Six armed police in flak jackets jumped out. Thinking they must have come to the wrong place, Mr Norris opened his front door, and was startled to be shoved against a wall and frisked for weapons. He was forced into a chair for four hours while officers ransacked his house. They pulled out drawers, rifled through papers, dumped things on the floor and eventually loaded 37 boxes of Mr Norris’s possessions onto their pickups. They refused to tell him what he had done wrong. “It wasn’t fun, I can tell you that,” he recalls.