In 1994, California voters passed the “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law. It was a form of sentence enhancement imposing a life sentence for almost any conviction, provided a defendant had at least two prior convictions for serious or violent crimes.
We know that the three-strikes rule led to an ever-rising prison population across the state and created other problems that still need to be addressed. Draconian sentencing laws are not unique to California; most states utilize mandatory minimum sentencing laws that mostly affect nonviolent drug offenders. Almost always, minorities are affected most by seemingly arbitrary sentencing laws.
As some of you well know, California has taken steps in recent years to right some wrongs when it comes to criminal justice. In 2012, voters passed Proposition 36, which did away with life sentences for nonviolent and non-serious crimes.
The law’s passing also created an avenue of recourse for individuals who received life sentences before Prop 36. Prisoners were allowed to petition the courts to receive a lower sentence in light of their circumstances. It was a step in the right direction, but there is still more to be done.
California Senate Bill 136
In California, there exists a sentencing enhancement allowing judges to tack a year to any new felony sentences when a defendant has a previous felony conviction that resulted in incarceration, The Appeal reports. The enhancement applies regardless of the circumstances of the prior or current convictions.
Senate Bill 136 is currently moving through the state legislature; the bill aims to do away with the sentencing enhancement mentioned above. SB 136 passed the Senate this session and was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on August 30, 2019, according to the ACLU of Southern California. The ACLU writes:
SB 136 will advance racial justice and fairness and help keep families together. This bill restricts a mandatory one-year sentence enhancement that is added to an individual’s base sentence for each prior prison or felony jail term served. Research shows that sentence enhancements like the one addressed by SB 136 do not make our communities safer or deter crime. Instead, these enhancements tear families apart. It’s time California move forward toward real justice.
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges in California, then you can benefit from Attorney Ronald G. Brower’s extensive legal experience. For more than 30 years, Mr. Brower has been helping defendants find favorable outcomes to their cases. Please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower for a consultation.