Rulings On Jail Terms Inconsistent After Changes To Three-Strikes Law
Director of Stanford Law's Three Strikes Project Michael Romano explains the implications of Proposition 36 in The Los Angeles Times.
After nearly two decades behind bars, Mark Anthony White saw a chance for freedom last year when California voters softened the state's tough three-strikes law.
Within weeks of the election, White asked a judge to reduce his 25-years-to-life sentence under the ballot measure, which allows most inmates serving life terms for relatively minor third strikes to seek more lenient sentences.
But attorney Michael Romano, who helped write the ballot measure, noted that White will not automatically win release if the courts decide that prisoners like him are eligible to ask for shorter sentences under Proposition 36. The initiative requires judges to evaluate every third-striker who asks to be resentenced and reject requests from anyone who poses an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.
Romano said the courts should not exclude prisoners based only on the fact that their third strikes were for firearms possession.
"If they're not a threat to public safety, they should be released," said Romano, who heads Stanford Law School's Three Strikes Project.