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Steve Cooley's three-strikes views get coverage in New York Times Magazine

May 21, 2010 |  8:56 am

This Sunday, Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley will be the focus of a New York Times Magazine article on California's three-strikes law. Cooley is one of the few Republican district attorneys in the state who has called for reforming the law.

Cooley is a Republican career prosecutor, but he campaigned against the excesses of three strikes. “Fix it or lose it,” he says of the law. In 2005, Cooley ordered a review of cases, to identify three-strikes inmates who had not committed violent crimes and whose life sentences a judge might deem worthy of second looks.

Cooley could once again pay a price for his three-strikes record. This spring, he announced his candidacy for California attorney general. His Republican rivals have hammered him for his moderate stance. “He’s acting as an enabler for habitual offenders,” State Senator Tom Harman told me. “I think that’s wrong. I want to put them in prison.” The race has developed into a litmus test: for 15 years, no serious candidate for major statewide office has dared to criticize three strikes. If Cooley makes it through his party’s primary on June 8 — and especially if he goes on to win in November — the law will no longer seem untouchable. If he loses, three strikes will be all the more difficult to dislodge.

You can read the full report on Steve Cooley and the three-strikes law online here.