By Bob Egelko
Part of a California law allowing “three strikes” inmates to seek reductions in their life sentence if their third felony conviction was neither serious nor violent was ruled invalid Friday by a state appeals court, which said it conflicted with the voters’ intent to protect the public.
In a separate case, another state appeals court relied on another section of the same law to order resentencing, with a possible release from prison, for a man serving 11 years for a 2016 assault conviction.
The 2021 law, SB483 by state Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, was a follow-up to Proposition 36, the 2012 ballot measure that narrowed the three strikes law approved by the voters in 1994.
Three strikes required a prison sentence of 25 years to life for anyone with two past convictions for serious or violent felony who was convicted of any new felony. Those with one prior serious or violent felony conviction would have their sentence doubled for a second felony conviction.
Prop. 36 barred a 25-to-life term for inmates whose third felony had not been serious or violent, unless the sentencing judge decided that the inmate would be dangerous if released. SB483 tightened that standard by requiring a sentence reduction unless the judge found by “clear and convincing evidence” that the inmate would pose a danger.
But the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Ventura said the new standard was inconsistent with the will of the voters who approved Prop. 36.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle