Before Tuesday, California's "three strikes" law allowed anyone convicted of three felonies to be sentenced to life in prison. But thanks to a ballot measure approved by 68.6 percent of voters, the law will now require that the third offense be of a serious or violent nature, meaning that a bad check or small theft won't trigger a ruling that puts someone behind bars for life.
It is estimated that the decision will save the state $90 million per year, the Huffington Post reports:
"Tonight's vote on Proposition 36 sends a powerful message to policymakers in California and across the country that taxpayers are ready for a new direction in criminal justice,'' Adam Gelb, director of the Pew Center on the States' Public Safety Performance Project, told the San Jose Mercury News. "States that have already made some changes to their sentencing laws may be inspired to take a second look, and states that haven't made significant changes yet may start."
In addition to altering the sentencing guidelines for future convicts, Prop 36 also creates a pathway for nearly 3,000 inmates currently serving life sentences under the Three Strikes Law to petition for a reduced term.
California imposed its Three Strikes law in 1994 and it is widely considered one of the toughest such laws in the country. In the years since the law's initial passing, the state's prison population has swelled to unprecedented proportions …
Read more at the Huffington Post.