California is known for its three strikes law regarding felony convictions. The state’s harsh stance against crime is something some people have not always seen as positive. In fact, according to the Judicial Branch of California, the three strikes law first became active in 1994, but then went through an amendment in 2012.
The changes in the law were to make the law fairer. Complaints about it always had to do with individuals whose crimes were felonies but not violent or serious ending up with a stiff sentence due to the law.
The original law from 1994 allowed for double the prison time for a second felony conviction. For a third felony conviction, the law stated that you would receive a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life.
The issue with this law is that it was putting people in prison for crimes that were not serious enough to warrant a possible life sentence, such as drug possession. There are many crimes that the state classifies as felonies. Of these, there are quite a few where it does not make sense to put someone away for 25 years or more. That is why people wanted to see a change in the law.
The changes made in 2012 kept the same rule about a second felony charge. However, it changed the third felony rule. For the mandatory sentence of 25 years to life to apply, your third felony conviction must be for a violent or serious crime.
The changes also implemented the opportunity for anyone in prison on a mandatory 25 to life sentence who did not commit a violent or serious crime on the third offense to appeal his or her sentence. This change could allow those who had lesser crimes get out of prison early, which is a win for them and a win for the overcrowded system.