California voters approved a ballot measure that would amend the state’s highly controversial Three Strikes law.

Previously, an individual could be given a life sentence for their third felony conviction, regardless of its severity.

The measure now requires that the third offense be something of a serious and/or violent nature.

From the Huffington Post:

The revised law would require that the third offense be of a serious or violent nature–not something as minor as writing a bad check or, in a much-cited example, stealing a pair of socks.

“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.


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