Patterico's Pontifications

8/30/2004

Nice Response to L.A. Times Op-Ed on Three Strikes

Filed under: No on 66 — Patterico @ 6:12 pm

Over the weekend I neglected to mention that the L.A. Times printed a great letter responding to the recent op-ed about third-striker Carl Quinton Jones. The letter is here. Because of linkrot, I have reproduced the entire letter in the extended entry.

Re “Putting a Face on Three Strikes Injustice,” Commentary, Aug. 23: Reasonable minds may differ about the appropriate sentence for Carl Quinton Jones, a man previously convicted of two residential burglaries, who then chose to break into a public school. But what the article fails to mention is that a three-strikes sentence is never mandatory. Judges have discretion to impose a sentence that ignores one or more strikes in the interests of justice.

A judge will consider the circumstances of the crime, the defendant’s record and his prospects for reform to determine if the defendant warrants a lesser sentence. If the judge rules against the defendant, that ruling will be reversed on appeal in the event the sentencing judge abused his discretion.

One of the terrible details of Proposition 66 is that it would eliminate six crimes from the list of serious and violent felonies that qualify as strikes in the first place.

These crimes include residential burglary (unless someone was home at the time, in which case it would likely be a robbery), arson, criminal threats and engaging in felony conduct to benefit a criminal street gang.

Thus, if Proposition 66 passes, a convicted child molester with a history of arson and breaking into people’s houses not knowing if the people were home or at work would not even be eligible for a three-strikes sentence.

Every inmate serving a three-strikes sentence has a criminal history of not just felony conduct but serious and/or violent felony conduct. Each has been given more than one opportunity to stop his or her criminal conduct but chooses to victimize the residents of California again. It is estimated that Proposition 66 would release about 26,000 of these dangerous offenders. Taking that risk would result in unimaginable tragedy.

F.M. Tavelman
Senior Vice President
Assn. of Deputy District Attorneys, Los Angeles

(Full disclosure: I know Deputy D.A. Tavelman, although I didn’t know he had written this letter until I read it in the paper.)

I recently argued that there is some question about the estimate of 26,000 criminals to be released by the initiative. That issue aside, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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