Ask the crime victims about Three Strikes Law

Why don't you ask Marc Klaas if the Three Strikes Law should be scaled back?

Dave Newbry

Martinez

Wording of the law needs to be changed

Let's scale back California's Three Strikes Law, because it was never intended to lock up nonviolent criminals.

The law's wording needs to be changed so that only "violent" felonies apply, not just "serious" ones in which the miscarriage of justice could include something as minor as stealing a loaf of bread, like in "Les Miserables."

Commuting sentences to time served, for all of those convicted of minor offenses as their second and third strikes, is a great way to restore justice and clear prison overcrowding.

The next step is possibly paroling -- with judicial discretion -- those whose records show their third strike was nonviolent.

Ed Chainey

Richmond

Three-time offenders should stay behind bars

Growing up in the 1950s, it used to be the criminals were afraid to get caught, so doors weren't locked.

You could walk across town at night, rapes were often avenged by the relatives, and mass murders and child abductions were a rarity. Then liberals stopped capital punishment and got soft on crime, so now it is the public that has to be afraid.


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Yet another governmental responsibility our government screws up.

Convicted criminals should get heavy penalties, three-time repeaters should be locked up, and most convicted killers should indeed be executed. Criminals need to be the ones who are scared again. Our jails should not be a place they want to return to.

Our youth need to actually stay in school and learn so they will be employable. Criminals should not be released until they can read and write and pass a GED test.

As today's released parolees are proving, they are again preying upon the law-abiding citizens and proving we definitely need the Three Strikes Law.

Pete Laurence

Clayton

Keep criminals in jail until they finally 'get it'

If I commit a crime (make a mistake) and it's my first offense, then I get arrested and jailed. I'll pretty much understand, then not to do it again.

Unless I want to go to jail again, I should have learned my lesson. If the same person is constantly committing the same crime, they aren't learning their lesson, don't care about society's rules and don't want to live among law-abiding citizens, they should be jailed.

If jail time is what they need to "get it," then that's what they should get. Pretty simple and straightforward.

Edyn Orr

San Francisco

Three Strikes sounded good, but it's not simple

Scaling back Three Strikes is a no-brainer. Thousands upon thousands of prisoners are being warehoused at a cost of $20,000 each per year. Add to that expense the legal costs incurred fighting off the courts, who point out that there is a clause in some obscure document regarding "cruel and unusual punishment."

Apparently, piling human beings on top of one another like so many cords of wood is frowned upon.

Voters were sold a panacea when they bought into the old "lock them up and throw away the key" doctrine. The inconvenient consequences are now coming into view. Well, when you find yourself in a hole, you should stop digging. That is sound advice.

The Three Strikes Law, like term limits, massive deregulation and two-third majority mandates, all sound good in the beginning. Simple solutions always sound good to those who are averse to addressing complex issues with complex thinking.

Vernon S. Burton

San Leandro

Law has bogged down state's courtrooms

In some circumstances, the Three Strikes Law is too severe. California is the only state that has such a law.

Convictions have been for minor and nonviolent crimes -- in many cases, for the use or being in possession of a controlled substance. In most cases, the first two charges carry a light sentence or probation; after the third offense, the Three Strikes Law takes effect.

This creates a tremendous backlog in the courts and will put a person behind bars for a mandatory 25-to-life sentence. A judge has no leeway in deciding the sentence; he has to follow the law.

In some cases, the law can act as a deterrent for a person not to commit the third offense.

The media sometimes distorts the true effectiveness of the law by reporting trivial cases -- for instance, stealing a pizza. There are too many people behind bars for nonviolent crimes.

The law should be thrown out, and more effort should be placed on putting hardened criminals in prison.

Robert V. Beaudreau

Fremont

School board trustees broke faith with voters

Not only has the Mt. Diablo Unified School District's board of trustees broken faith with the voters, it has, as the Times' editorial stated, acted illegally to raise property taxes. The voters in the Mt. Diablo district should launch an immediate recall of the entire board, as it can no longer be trusted to act in the best interests of the taxpayers.

The hubris of the trustees is unconscionable, regardless of the benefits they assert will result from their actions. Once more, it is proven that after achieving a position of power, too many elected officials assume a mantle of arrogance and superiority far beyond the bounds of reality.

Not only should they be recalled, but they also must never again be elected or appointed to any public office. They have proved that they cannot be trusted to protect the best interests and the will of the people.

Not to act to remove these trustees is to confirm their behavior and encourage others to act outside the parameters of their elected offices.

Ernest Hampson

Pittsburg

Raising tax rate without approval was wrong

Please see the April 25 editorial and then the story "Board hikes property tax" for background information.

At issue is Measure C, the $348 million bond issue that the district put before the voters last year. With the statement and promise that we would only pay $60 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, the bond issue passed.

Without voter approval, the Mt. Diablo school board voted 4-1 to increase the tax rate from $60 per $100,000 of assessed valuation to $89 in 2013-14 and to $95 in 2015.

I would describe the original bond issue that passed as a "subprime" bond issue akin to the housing market in this country that the district sold the voters. "Pass this issue and only pay $60 per $100,000 and then you will pay the larger amount later." This was a bad deal. However, the voters passed it.

Had the voters known that the board would be hiking the cost one year later, would the measure have passed? What does this do to all the folks on a fixed income? In addition, it could be illegal. We all want the best for our children, but this is going too far.

Nicholas R. Virgallito

Concord

Maybe things aren't so terrible after all

All four of the articles on the front page of the April 23 edition of the Times were both positive and inspiring. Maybe we haven't paid close attention to the theme of the thin Monday edition, but we support this tradition of reporting the good news on the front and save the bad news for the rest of the paper -- at least on Mondays.

Thank you for starting our week off right!

Larissa and Nick Kosla

Orinda

Two possible reasons for Bill Lockyer's motivation

I wonder if others reading the article on Bill Lockyer at age 71 "moving on" had a similar reaction to mine. On one end of the spectrum, he's a dedicated, selfless public servant with a vision trying to serve his community. Or, he's an old guy desperate to hold onto power and the perks. Most probably somewhere between the two extremes, but I fear the latter is the dominant motivation.

Jim Kain

Concord