Stanford Law School’s Three Strikes Project Represents NAACP Legal Defense Fund in Historic Reform of the United States’ Harshest Sentencing Law
California Ballot Measure to Reform “Three Strikes” Sentencing Law Passes
Stanford, Calif., November 7, 2012—Stanford Law School today announced that the work of faculty and students in the Three Strikes Project who represented the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to reform California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law has resulted in the passage of Proposition 36. Prop. 36 is the first voter initiative in U.S. history to approve shorter sentences for people currently serving excessive prison terms. The campaign was led by a historic coalition of California’s leading law enforcement officers, civil rights organizations, and academics.
Stanford Law School’s Three Strikes Project represented the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in a two-year effort to reform the country’s harshest sentencing law so that offenders no longer receive life sentences for non-violent non-serious crimes, like petty theft and simple drug possession. Studies show that California’s Three Strikes law has been disproportionately applied against African-Americans.
Stanford Law School Professor David Mills and Three Strikes Project Director Michael Romano crafted the initiative on behalf of, and in collaboration with, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Stanford Law School students helped develop the proposition, draft the legislation, and work for its passage.
“The historic passage of Prop. 36 overturns the long-held conventional wisdom that it’s impossible to fix our most extreme and unjust crime laws,” said David Mills, professor of the practice of law and senior lecturer in law. “My most sincere hope is that this victory serves as a turning point that inspires others to advocate for more sane and humane criminal justice policies.”
“This project has given our students an extraordinary opportunity to work on behalf of their clients to advance major legal change,” said M. Elizabeth Magill, the Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School. “We are proud that Stanford Law School is able to provide these kinds of inspiring educational experiences for our students.”
“This victory for justice is a testament to the collective talent at Stanford Law School, our students, and the community’s determination and willingness to fight for what’s right,” added Michael Romano.
“California voters took a very important step forward toward a more rational and just criminal justice system,” said Debo P. Adegbile, acting president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). “California has now shown that citizens want punishments to make sense and bear some rational relationship to the crime, and not the imposition of harsh sentences with no safety or social benefit. We hope that legislators around the nation will follow this lead. LDF is proud to have played a role in achieving this victory for justice, and we are extremely grateful for the role played by Stanford Law School’s Three Strikes Project in representing LDF in this important work.”
About Stanford Law School
Stanford Law School (www.law.stanford.edu) is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a new model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective and focus on public service, spearheading a movement for change.