Pubdate: Thu, 25 Nov 1999
Source: Orange County Register (CA)
Copyright: 1999 The Orange County Register
Contact:  P.O. Box 11626, Santa Ana, CA 92711
Fax: (714) 565-3657
Author: George Lippman, Al Thompson


1 of 2:

I find Deputy District Attorney Kraig St.Pierre's use of statistics
concerning the merits of the "three strikes" law to be misleading ["'Three
strikes' law, by the numbers," Letters, Nov.22].

St. Pierre quotes percentages without revealing the magnitude of the actual
numbers. It is the sheer number of people being imprisoned that indicates
the need for study of this misguided law, not the percentages.
Sixty-percent reduction of sentences has still resulted in more than 4,200
people now serving life sentences, with an additional 44,000 people at risk
with one or two strikes. When committed by persons with prior criminal
records, even non-violent or relatively trivial misdemeanors are upgraded
to felonies.

California has used this law more than 40 times as often as any other state
and more times than all the other states in the Union. If this isn't
"overzealous" then I don't know what is.

Serious questions also have arisen over the administration of this
financially and socially devastating law. It should be everyone's concern
to ask why and to welcome a study.

George Lippman, Fullerton

2 of 2:

I beg to differ with Kraig St. Pierre. It is overzealous prosecutors who
are the problem when they ask for a 48-year term for trespassing, attempted
burglary or even someone looking through a window.

To have taxpayers pay $25,000 to $30,000 a year to house these inmates is
ridiculous. Common sense would tell you that 10, 15 or 20 years is plenty
of time to serve with some kind of rehabilitation, electronic monitoring
and half the cost of taxpayers' money.

The focus should be on the rehabilitation of non-violent or petty criminals.

Al Thompson, Garden Grove
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