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Opinion: Voters' Change To Three Strikes Is Working Well

Publication Date: 
October 21, 2013
Los Angeles Daily News
Thomas D. Elias

The Los Angeles Daily News reports on Stanford Law's Three Strikes Project's role in releasing prisoners given life sentences under the Three Strikes law. 

Alex Maese is an example of how mistaken critics can be when they claim, as they have for decades, that Californians are not smart or sophisticated enough for direct democracy via ballot propositions.

Maese was convicted in 1997 of possessing a fragment of a cotton ball containing 0.029 grams of heroin, then sentenced to life in prison. No court at the time saw evidence of how he was using that tiny drug dose to self-medicate post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from his service in Vietnam.


An estimated 2,000 more similar prisoners are probably in line for release in the next year or so, with hundreds more yearly now spared long prison terms for petty offenses. This is one reason there’s some hope of success for new plans to comply with federal court orders to lower prison populations.

When all the eligibles are released, Proposition 36 will be saving taxpayers more than $70 million yearly.

That’s the upshot of an autumn report from the Stanford Law School’s Three Strikes Project and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.