California passed a Three Strikes Law in 1994 after several high-profile murders committed by ex-felons sparked public outrage, including the kidnapping from her Petaluma home and strangling of 12-year-old Polly Klaas. Since then, the courts have sent more than 80,000 "second-strikers" and 7,500 "third-strikers" to state prison, according to the state Legislative Analyst's Office, according to the Mercury News.
Though third-strikers make up just 6 percent of the prison population, they are responsible for a disproportionate share of the state's spiraling prison health care costs -- at least $100 million annually -- as they age and need more medical attention, according to the California auditor.
The previous measure, Proposition 66, sought to restrict felonies that trigger a "third" strike to violent or serious crimes. Under the existing law, life sentences have been issued for such relatively minor crimes as stealing a pair of socks, attempting to break into a soup kitchen or forging a check at a department store, reported the Mercury News.
California is looking to bring the three strikes law to the voters. The effort to limit the law is gaining momentum, with a proposed ballot initiative that would reserve the toughest penalty -- 25 years to life -- for the baddest of the bad, including murderers, rapists and child molesters.
To read more: http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_19242905