CHOOSE1 Three Strikes Reform Act needs 365,880 signatures by June 1: Volunteer today!

by Julie Piccolotti , CHOOSE1

CHOOSE1 logoFor more than two decades, California’s Three Strikes Law has been criticized for being unfair, excessively punitive and in many ways strikingly irrational. There have been several measures implemented by Californians to fix this law.

In 2012 and 2014 meager steps were taken, addressing some people sentenced under Three Strikes, but it still remains unfair and excessive. Now, California voters have a chance to bring fairness to criminal justice policy along with making some common sense investments towards our future with The Three Strikes Reform Act of 2016.

A brief statement of common sense

We’ve all made mistakes that have resulted from poor personal choices, and many people who made bad decisions have ended up in prison. What’s common amongst a lot of these bad decision makers: not taking advantage of educational opportunities and, for one reason or the other, dropping out of school.

This is a vicious cycle of bad choices and imprisonment, all of which fuels mass incarceration. This cycle of mass incarceration can be reversed by The Reform Act’s common sense approach at stopping the problem before it starts.

Just the facts

Recent studies conducted by WalletHub and Education Week rank California’s school system amongst the lowest in the nation. The poor ranking is in part due to spending priorities: more on jails and prisons than on schools, colleges and universities.

Inadequate funding for high poverty school districts and sky rocketing college tuition are at the core of the problem. Despite several misleading political efforts aimed at reducing California’s overcrowded prisons, funding for jails and prisons remain strikingly high, while public schools take a back seat. The state’s persistent legislative gridlock and political dysfunction is a call for California voters to effectuate change.

This is a vicious cycle of bad choices and imprisonment, all of which fuels mass incarceration. This cycle of mass incarceration can be reversed by The Reform Act’s common sense approach at stopping the problem before it starts.

The Reform Act allows the re-sentencing of non-dangerous strikers whose prior convictions occurred prior to the enactment of the Three Strikes law in 1994, as well as eliminating criminal threats as a strike. The Three Strikes Reform Act of 2016 preserves public safety by excluding those who are currently convicted of child molestation, rape and murder. Inmates who qualify under The Three Strikes Reform Act of 2016 are at least 37 years old, while most are in their 50s and 60s, have served a significant amount of time and made substantial strides towards rehabilitation.

With the passage of The Act, each fiscal year beginning in 2017, the Controller shall disperse the identified savings from passing the law as follows:

  1. 25 percent to high poverty middle and high schools in California.
  2. 25 percent to the California Community Colleges to offset tuition.
  3. 25 percent to the Universities of California to offset tuition.
  4. 25 percent towards prison rehabilitation programs.

Political will plus people power

It’s no secret an educated person who graduates from high school and goes on to college is far less likely to succumb to pitfalls that lead to incarceration. Unfortunately, politicians refuse to take any real initiative to alleviate policies that interfere with this process.

The current state of the law, particularly the Three Strikes law, intentionally or not, plays into diverting precious resources from the public educational process to the prison industrial complex. The Three Strikes Reform Act of 2016 corrects this problem with sentencing reforms that redirect hundreds of millions of dollars back to the public educational process and away from the prison industrial complex.

It’s no secret an educated person who graduates from high school and goes on to college is far less likely to succumb to pitfalls that lead to incarceration.

To be placed on the November ballot, The Three Strikes Reform Act of 2016 initiative needs 365,880 signatures from registered voters by June 1.

To make donations to The Three Strikes Reform Act of 2016, via the gofundme account or by mail, go to www.choose1.org. All donations will be used to finance the signature gathering process. You can volunteer your time and support for The Three Strikes Reform Act of 2016 by emailing us at choose1initiative@gmail.com.