Three Strikes You're Out Law

[email protected]

We have all heard of the newest anti-crime law, the "Three strikes and you?re out" law. It wasn?t easy getting this law from the bill stage in Sacramento to the law stage, because it is not a criminal friendly law. Meaning that this law?s purpose is to bring pain, suffering, and intimidation to criminals. Our state government was basically ran by the Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, now mayor of San Francisco. Brown had the power to choose who sat on what committee in the house, and using this he could terminate any bill he did not agree with. And with this attitude it took a lot of patients and perseverance by the people trying to pass this bill. But how did the bill become a bill? I will answer this question with help of the Kimber Reynolds story.

Monday, June 29, 1992 in Fresno, California a young woman was brutally murdered outside The Daily Planet, a restaurant patronized by the local young people. The girl was visiting home for the summer after being in the Los Angeles area attending school. Her and a friend were getting into their car when two guys on a motorcycle rode up next to Kimber Reynolds blocking her in, taking her purse, and beating her into submission. The story made the 11 o?clock news only minutes after her father had gone to bed. When police ran a background check on the two suspected men, Joeseph Micheal Davis and Douglas Walker, both men had recently been released on parole with multiple offenses on their records. Unfortunately Davis was never brought in because when police were attempting to arrest him he began firing, wounding unsuspecting police officers and ultimately being killed. Douglas Walker was convicted of accessory to murder.

Mike Reynolds, Kimber?s father, went on the radio on a local radio show called the Ray Appleton Show, KMJ 580. There he would discuss his outrage about how he was sick of repeat offenders being locked up only to be released after a fraction of the sentence was completed. He swore to the people listening that he was going to do something about the problem, even if it takes him forever. Listening to that show was Fresno Assemblyman Bill Jones (R). He was interested in the issue and arranged a meeting with Mike. They discussed ideas about how they could solve this problem.

With that in mind Mike used some connections and gathered one superior, one appellate, and one municipal court judge, as well as a well-known local defense attorney, a representative from the Fresno Police Department, an expert in juvenile justice and Ray Appleton. The men did some research and drew up some ideas. Their final legislative proposal was as follows:
- Double the sentence for a conviction of any felony if there is a previous serious or violent felony conviction.
- Triple the sentence or twenty-five years to life, whichever is greater, for any combination of two prior violent or serious felony convictions coupled with any new felony.
- Probation, a suspended sentence, or a commitment to a diversion program as a substitute for serving time in prison is prohibited for felons with at least one prior conviction of a serious or violent felony.
- Any felon with at least one prior serious or violent felony conviction must serve any subsequent felony sentence in a state prison (as opposed to a county jail).
- Terms are to be served consecutively, rather than concurrently.
- Maximum allowable time off for good behavior is reduced to 20 percent.
- Juvenile convictions for serious of violent felonies count as prior convictions if the felony was committed when the juvenile was sixteen or seventeen years old.
- When a defendant has at least one prior conviction for a serious or violent felony, the district attorney is required to plead and prove all known prior felony convictions. Prior felony convictions cannot be used as part of a plea-bargain.

Now that Mike had the proposal he had Bill Jones submit it to the state legislature. Right away the bill was sent to the Assembly Public Safety committee to be approved. This committee is known as a killer of tough-on-crime bills, and consisted of eight members, Paula Boland, Richard Rainey, Tom Umberg, Tom Bates, John Burton, Barbara Lee, and committee chairman Robert Epple. Both Boland and Rainey were Republicans while the rest were Democrats, and one