On July 1, I told you that a Los Angeles Times article regarding California corrections policy had misstated the impact of California’s Three Strikes Law. I wrote the Readers’ Representative and was told that a correction would likely issue. The paper issued that correction today — but, as we will see later, today’s correction is itself incorrect. Today’s correction reads:
Elderly prisoners — A June 26 Los Angeles Times Magazine article about the increasing number of elderly prisoners in California said the state’s three-strikes law mandates life sentences without parole for certain repeat felons. In fact, on a third-strike felony sentence of at least 25 years to life, the offender is eligible for parole after serving at least 80% of the sentence. Also, the article gave the wrong first name for a prisoner at the California Medical Facility. He is Clyde Hoffman, not Claude.
These were not the only errors in the article, by a longshot. A previous correction relating to the same article read as follows:
Older prisoners — A Los Angeles Times Magazine article Sunday about the increasing number of elderly prisoners in California prisons incorrectly stated that former Gov. Gray Davis said that murderers would leave prison during his term only “in a pine box.” Although others have characterized his policy in this way, Davis did not actually make this remark. In addition, the article incorrectly stated that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger “is on exactly the same page” as Davis when it comes to releasing murderers. The governor, in fact, has granted parole to 84 convicted murderers whose sentences made them eligible for release, whereas Davis allowed five to be paroled. Also, the article incorrectly referred to the location of the California Institution for Women. It is in Chino, not Corona.
Whew! By my count, that’s five mistakes in one article. Are we done yet?
Actually, we’re not . . . because today’s correction is itself incorrect in asserting that “on a third-strike felony sentence of at least 25 years to life, the offender is eligible for parole after serving at least 80% of the sentence.” A prisoner serving a third-strike felony sentence of 25 years to life is eligible for parole only after serving 100% of the minimum sentence. (In re Cervera (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1073, 1076; for a Web citation, see footnote 14 to this opinion.) The 80% rule cited in today’s correction applies only to determinate sentences with no life component, such as are commonly served in second-strike cases.
The bottom line is, if you are sentenced to 25 years to life under the Three Strikes Law, you have to serve 25 actual years before you are eligible for parole.
It looks like David Shaw’s four experienced Times editors got it wrong, again. (Is he sorry he said that yet?)
P.S. For those keeping score at home, this is the third Patterico-inspired correction in as many days. The other two are mentioned here.