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The Jones Costa Bill: Three Strikes Essay

2572 words - 11 pages

It is difficult to imagine a time in history when criminals were able to commit severe crimes and go unpunished or be punished by the law in a lenient manner. How is that someone could unjustly put an end to someone else’s life and be sentenced to prison for seven years, maybe ten. That term sounds like a lengthy time but in my view a person who inflicts harm on another individual should be punished in a more severely way. The wonderful thing about the legal system in this country is that it can change whether it is repealed, amended, or a new law or sets of laws are created. The fact that the ability to propose a law is not solemnly reserved to the government makes our legal system quite ...view middle of the document...

Mike Reynolds initiative was not given much support until another tragedy occurred in northern California. A little girl of twelve years old, Polly Klaas, from Petaluma, California was murdered in the year of 1993 after she had been kidnapped at knife-point from her mother’s home in the month of October of that year. Polly was not found until December of 1993, but unfortunately she was no longer alive. It was until now that Mike Reynolds began to garner support for his initiative. Citizens of California along with people across the country were ready now more than ever to draft and create tough on crime laws. “Facing intense public pressure to address the problem of high violent crime rates in the late 1980s and early 1990s, policy makers responded by strengthening existing laws targeting repeat offenders.” (Kovandzic, 399).
In March 1994, Governor of California Pete Wilson signed into law the Jones-Costa Bill which was one of the many bills that had reached the Senate floor. “The legislation’s new criminal-sentencing rules have three key provisions. For first-time offenders, the statute leaves intact the prior sentencing guidelines. For second-time offenders, the new law doubles the minimum required sentence. The centerpiece of the legislation, however is its “Three Strikes provision, which mandates that state courts sentence to an “indeterminate term of life imprisonment” those individuals previously convicted for two or more serious and/or violent felonies. The statue also increases the length of imprisonment for second and third time offenders by reducing the total amount of “good time” credit these prisoners can earn, from one-third to only one-fifth of the total sentence. In requiring specific terms of imprisonment and in restricting subsequent reductions of sentences, moreover, the Jones-Costa law limits prosecutorial and judicial sentencing discretion. For example, the recent legislation restricts the following: aggregate term limitations, probation as a sentencing option, suspended sentences, and sentencing to low security rehabilitation centers.” (“Recent Legislation,” 2123-2124)
Mike Reynolds acquired a large amount of support for his petition where he received about six-hundred thousand signatures which allowed his initiative to be placed on the ballot in the upcoming election of November 8, 1994. With a three strikes law already being in place which had been signed early in the same year, this proposition would amend this law. The change that Reynolds and his supporters were seeking was that, “Unlike other states’ versions of Three Strikes, California’s version does not require the Third Strike to be violent or serious to qualify for a life sentence.” (Miles, Macallair, par. 2) For example, someone has two-felons and gets caught for stealing a soda from a convenience store, then they are eligible to be sentenced under the Three Strikes rule by either being sentenced to life imprisonment or receiving an enhancement sentencing....

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