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Three Strikes: Today’s Civil Rights Challenge

Publication Date: 
October 04, 2012
San Francisco Bay View
Kenneth G. Keel


Professor David Mills spoke with San Francisco Bay View's Kenneth G. Keel on why he believes California's Three Strikes Law is one of the "leading civil rights issues of today." 

Do you believe that 25 years to life for petty theft or taking a family member’s DMV test is excessive or cruel and unusual punishment? If so, this article was written for you.


California’s Three Strikes and You’re Out sentencing law (Three Strikes) was passed by the Legislature as AB-971 and by voters as Proposition 184 in 1994. The Yes on Prop 184 campaign, mostly funded by the prison guards union, CCPOA, exploited the high-profile abduction, sexual assault and murder of 12-year-old Polly Klass (RIP) from Petaluma to advertise and market their initiative. The public’s outrage, hoping to eradicate child molesters, rapists and murderers, led to an overwhelming majority, 72 percent, voting for Prop 184.


In an interview in the Aug. 22 Sacramento Bee, David W. Mills, a Stanford Law School professor and private investment manager, stated that his interest in Three Strikes is based upon his long-term interest in civil rights. Professor Mills said that the “dramatic effect on poor people and African Americans” makes Three Strikes one of the leading civil rights issues of today.