California ‘three-strike’ sentences used less often 15 years later

By Andy Furillo – The Sacramento Bee – PUBLISHED MONDAY, JUL. 04, 2011 Fifteen years after passage of the state’s landmark “three strikes” sentencing law, prosecutors in Sacramento and throughout California have become far more selective in applying the full force of the statute, reducing the number of lifetime prison terms being sought for third strikers to a relative trickle. While it used to obtain the maximum sentences anywhere from 50 to nearly 100 times a year, the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office now asks for life terms for third strikers fewer than 20 times a year, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The office obtained 16 such sentences in 2010 compared with a high of 94 in 1996. The trend bears out from Del Norte to Imperial counties. District attorneys across the state used to collectively pack off criminals on maximum three-strikes terms by the hundreds – more than 1,700 in 1996 alone. In the past three years, the numbers have dropped to well short of 200 annually. California prisons housed 8,727 three-strike lifers as of Dec. 31. Explanations for the decrease vary. One factor, said legal experts, is the 1996 California Supreme Court decision that gave judges a say in three-strikes sentencing. [Full Story: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/07/04/3745789/california-three-strike-sentences.html# ]

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California ‘three-strike’ sentences used less often 15 years later