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Skelton: Time to change California's three-strikes law

October 22, 2012 |  7:00 am


SkeltonCalifornia's three-strikes law might have seemed like a good idea back in 1994, when it was overwhelmingly approved by voters. But the law is flawed, says George Skelton, and it's time to change it.

In his Monday column, Skelton says too many people have been sentenced to 25 years to life for minor crimes, like stealing bread or being caught with a smal amount of drugs.

"Not under Taliban law in some backward, oppressive society," he says. "They were administered that severe punishment here in enlightened California under our three-strikes law."

Skelton says voters should approve Proposition 36, which says most third convictions would have to be classified as serious or violent before triggering a 25-to-life sentence.

This one might be able to succeed where a 2004 ballot measure failed. That one was opposed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was featured in television advertisements saying, "Keep them behind bars."

All of Skelton's columns are here.


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Photo: Inmates' beds fill a gymnasium at the state prison in Lancaster in 2010. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times