Stanford Law's Three Strikes Project works for fair implementation of new statute
Professor David Mills and Michael Romano, co-founder and director of the Stanford Three Strikes Project, spoke with the Stanford Report's Brooke Donald about reforms needed to fix the "disproportionate" punishments imposed by the Three Strikes Law and the "desperate need to rethink how we punish people so that folks do not have to" gross injustices in their sentencing.
Outside the office of the Three Strikes Project in the basement of Stanford Law School are rows of boxes, each stuffed with letters from inmates or their families from across California.
The letters are full of stories. Stories about how stealing loose change from a parked car or shoplifting from a mall or being caught with a tiny amount of drugs resulted in a life sentence in prison.
The letters ask for help. And for several years now, Stanford law students and their professors have been giving it.
"It's purely a question of justice," said David Mills, the Stanford professor and founder of the school's Clinical Education program who spearheaded the push to reform the law. "It was obvious something needed to be done."
"These are not serial rapists we happen to get off the street because we caught them stealing a radio from a parked car," says Michael Romano, the director of the project. "These people are generally homeless drug addicts. Have they committed crimes? Absolutely. Do they deserve to be punished? Absolutely. But we think that a life sentence for these crimes is unjust, it's disproportionate, it's not what the voters wanted, it doesn't improve public safety at all."