Supreme Court in California makes it harder for three-strike prisoners to get sentence reductions

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In a 4-3 decision, the California Supreme Court ruled on Monday; the judges may freely decline to trim sentences for inmates who qualify for reductions under a 2012 ballot measure intended to reform the state’s tough three-strikes sentencing law.

The recent decision aimed to resolve questions posed by two ballot measures in recent years to reduce the population of the state’s overburdened prison system.  Proposition 36 allowed three-strike inmates to obtain sentence reductions if their third strike was neither serious nor violent.  Judges are entitled to refuse a reduction if they believe the inmate posed an “unreasonable risk for danger to public safety.”  They could consider the inmate’s history, disciplinary record in person or other evidence.

Inmates could be denied a sentence reduction only if they were deemed to pose an unreasonable risk of committing certain crimes, including a killing, a sexually violent offense, child molestation or other severe or violent felony punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.

The court majority, led by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, said Monday that definition did not apply to three-strikers, who have been sentenced to 25 years to life for repeated crimes.

 

Source:  Los Angeles Times

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