Criminal Justice

3-strike sentences cut for 5 inmates, judge reconsiders life terms of more than 1,000 others


A California judge has reduced punishments for five inmates convicted of relatively minor crimes.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan is responsible for reconsidering the life prison terms of more than 1,000 offenders sentenced for non-serious and nonviolent offenses, under the recently approved Proposition 36, the Los Angeles Times reports. More than 300 of the requests have been filed by inmates, the rest by attorneys, according to the report. Throughout California, about 2,800 prisoners are eligible to ask for reduced sentences.

“They came in like a hurricane,” Ryan told the Times in a recent interview. “I am taking everything, even if it’s in crayon, as long as it has the right information.”

Prosecutors have been reviewing the prison records of those who are asking to be resentenced to determine whether they were violent behind bars and to determine whether they pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety, according to the Times.

Although the measure was popular with voters, according to the Times, some critics expressed concern over the release of resentenced prisoners without supervision.

Michael Romano, who helped write the proposition and runs a Stanford Law School project that represents inmates convicted of minor third strikes, told the newspaper that the success of such inmates will depend on whether counties can provide them the drug treatment, housing and job training resources they need after their release.

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