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Three Strikes: Comparing Mass. Proposal To Other States

Publication Date: 
May 27, 2012
Sentinel & Enterprise (Fitchburg, MA )
Neal J. Riley and Steven Graff

Third-year law student Maggie Filler was quoted by Neal J. Riley and Steven Graff of Sentinel & Enterprise on her involvement in the Three Strikes Project that provides counsel for defendants charged with life sentences in California.

As in Massachusetts, a horrific murder was behind the push for a three-strikes law in California.

Richard Allen Davis, a twice-convicted kidnapper, snatched 12-year-old Polly Klaas from a slumber party at her Petaluma home in 1993 and strangled her to death. The case created a public outcry that led to a 1994 ballot initiative creating a three-strikes law requiring a 25-years-to-life sentence for those already convicted of two serious or violent felonies.

"The law was passed in the heat of the moment," said Maggie Filler, a third-year Stanford University law student and member of the school's Three Strikes Project, which counsels defendants facing life sentences. "It was a horrific trauma that the entire state experienced and in the wake of that they passed the three strikes law; it was really a direct response to the tragedy."


But Filler warns the Massachusetts plan to eliminate parole makes it tougher than California's law.

"The California three-strikes sentence has the opportunity for parole after 25 years, potentially sooner with good time credits," she said.