Ideological Opposites Attract on Calif. Sentencing Reform

Friday, 27 Apr 2012 10:34 AM

By Robert Engler

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Conservative tax activist Grover Nordquist and liberal financier George Soros are backing an initiative to reform California’s Three Strikes Law, which has garnered more than enough petition signatures to secure a place on the November ballot.
 
Nordquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said the Three Strikes Reform Act would be “tough on crime without being tough on taxpayers,” the San Jose Mercury News reported Thursday.
 
“It will put a stop to needlessly wasting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers’ hard-earned money, while protecting people from violent crime,” he said.
 
According to the Mercury News, the initiative would limit the types of felonies that prosecutors could charge as a third strike to only the most heinous violent crimes, such as murder, rape, and child molestation.
 
Currently, prosecutors can charge any felony— including property crimes, larceny, and theft — as a third strike, which carries a penalty of 25 years to life in prison.
 
Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley says scaling back felony sentencing guidelines will ensure “the punishment fits the crime.”
 
“Dangerous recidivist criminals will remain behind bars for life, and our overflowing prisons will not be clogged with inmates who pose no risk to public safety,” said

Cooley, who tried to modify the law in 2006 and maintains a policy of charging a third strike only in violent criminal cases.

In addition to Nordquist, Cooley, and Soros — who has spent $500,000 to advance the reform effort — the initiative is supported by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Stanford University professors who drafted it.

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