Pubdate: Mon, 08 May 2000
Source: Orange County Register (CA)
Copyright: 2000 The Orange County Register
Contact:  P.O. Box 11626, Santa Ana, CA 92711
Fax: (714) 565-3657
Author: Barbara J. Brooks


Recently Matt Swearingen, ex-star athlete from Villa Park High School,
killed his father. Through a plea bargain based on his past "good record,"
he was sentenced to 21 years. Because it's a determinate sentence,
Swearingen will serve 85 percent of the time, or 17 years and 10 months. As
it's his first strike, he won't spend his whole life in prison.

A third-striker, on the other hand, even if his/her third conviction is for
a crime not serious or violent, is not allowed a plea bargain and is given
an enhanced, indeterminate sentence of 25 years to life and will not receive
any time off for good behavior. He/she will face the parole board no earlier
than 25 years. Out of thousands of prisoners up for parole, California has
only paroled a handful, so freedom is unlikely.

Justice was not served in either case because the judgment was based on the
past record, not the present offense. Families to Amend California's Three
Strikes believes the time should fit the crime. Where are our values when
someone who takes a life receives the amenities and gets out long before the
non-violent third-striker?

Barbara J. Brooks
- ---
MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk