As reported by National Public Radio (NPR) the Supreme Court has begun to hear arguments on the California prison system case, Schwarzenegger v Plata; dealing with prison overcrowding.
On August 4, 2010, a three-judge panel ordered California to release 44,000 prisoners due to prison overcrowding. Schwarzenegger appealed, claiming the federal court has no right to tell California to release prisoners.
It seems strange how the State of California has been denying prisoners their rights for years. Now the state is claiming its right’s are being violated. California, you need to wake up and smell the injustice of Three Strikes.
This cry, heard loudest from a group called FACTS, “Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes.” I have seen them work so hard to get people to hear and smell the injustice of the 3 Strikes Law.
Now the Supreme Court will rule on whether there is injustice through another avenue, caused by, in my opinion, an ill-conceived California law called “3 Strikes.”
When voters approved the harsh “Three Strikes Law” back in 1994, they thought it was the answer to violent felons by making it mandatory that a third felony could land you in prison for a long time, 25 years to life.
Johnny Quirino has been sitting in a California prison since 1996 after given a 25 year to life sentence under California’s 3 Strikes law. Currently it cost $51,000 per year to house this inmate for stealing a pack of razor blades. Info by FACTS: http://facts1.live.radicaldesigns.org/article.php?id=171
What is odd about this case, if the sentence for this particular crime is not odd enough, was the fact that Quirino plead guilty to stealing the razors. Now I ask you, would you plead guilty to stealing razors if you knew you were going to be sentenced 25 years to life?
Rene Landa is also sitting in a California prison. In 1995, convicted of stealing a spare tire and sentenced 27 to life, he tells a believable story. Info by FACTS:
Has anyone ever heard of “Jury nullification?” In essence, a jury can rule not guilty when the person is guilty but the case itself is ridiculous; look it up. It’s the law and I am puzzled why this is not a part of jury instructions.
There are literally thousands of similar type cases in California. None of which the voters would have agreed to, if people were not so sneaky (criminal) in passing a law based on anger.
Furthermore, due to prison overcrowding, some counties are not enforcing “Three Strikes” as intended and it is causing, even “Nonviolent” inmates to become poster boy examples for why this law should stay in place. The case of once nonviolent, John Wesley Ewell, now on trial for murder.
This LA Times piece seems to suggest that we need Three Strikes, however, I think it points out another flaw of this law. Three Strikes has worked so poorly, that it is turning nonviolent ex-cons, violent, due to fear of making one little mistake like stealing a sleeping bag and getting a life sentence which has happened. In other words, the fear of reprocutions does not prevent me from making a mistake but rather makes me want to snap right after comitting that one mistake, knowing the penalty is the same.
I did not believe the Supreme Court had the spine to uphold the lower court ruling to release these prisoners. However, early indications suggest that the High Court not only has a spine, but a nose as well.
I think the Supreme Court smells hypocrisy and injustice by the State of California prison system.