Three Strikes Project: Criminal Justice Reform & Post-conviction Litigation
This November, voters in California will go to the polls and vote on whether to reform California's "Three Strikes and You're Out" criminal sentencing law. The reform is intended to ameliorate the harshest and largely unintended aspects of the Three Strikes law, which is widely recognized as the strictest sentencing law in the county. The initiative was inspired and drafted in part by Stanford law students who, over the past six years, have represented individuals sentenced to life under the Three Strikes law for very minor crimes. This seminar will study criminal justice reform in real time. Students will read and discuss a variety of cases and articles, examining the history of the Three Strikes law as a case study in the history, politics, practicalities and legal regulation of sentencing in the United States. This is an experiential seminar, meaning that students will have an opportunity to work on the initiative campaign, which is a collaboration between the Three Strikes Project and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Students will also be involved in the actual representation in state and/or federal court of an inmate who is currently serving a life term under the Three Strikes law for a minor crime. Students will visit clients in prison, conduct factual investigation in the field, write legal briefs, and argue cases in open court.