Pubdate: 11 March 1999
Source: Orange County Register (CA)
Section: Metro,page 9
Copyright: 1999 The Orange County Register
Author: (1) Linda Valdivia  (2) S. David


[ Letter #1 ]

Former Assemblyman Jim Morrissey in under the impression that the
"three strikes" law is keeping hardcore criminals of the streets, thus
making our state safer ["Three strikes works," Talk Show, March 7].

Yes, these people committed felonies, not misdemeanors. But are all
felonies equal?

Is the possession of a small amount of methamphetamine or cocaine by
someone who has a drug addiction as serious as attempted murder? Is
stealing three spray-paint cans from a garage as serious as rape? I
don't think so. Those are the two convictions my son has; he is
currently in prison with "two strikes." He is hardly a great danger to
society, and the cost of incarceration is so much higher than the cost
of rehabilitation.

Seventy-five percent of those doing time for second strikes are for
non-violent offenses such as possession of drugs. A study in 1997 by
the Rand Corporation found that forced rehabilitation for drug
offenders is more cost effective than incarceration.

Most people aren't advocating letting murderers and rapists out on the
streets. But if we want room in the prisons for them, we need to
re-look at what we are locking people up for, and revise the law so
that those who are truly a danger to our society are incarcerated, not
petty criminals and drug offenders.

Linda Valdivia
Rancho Cucamonga

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[ Letter #2 ]

 I can't think of a more fitting poster child for the "three
strikes" laws than the criminal Shane Reams [Some see tide turning on
' three strikes' law," Metro, March 8]. After two felony burglary
convictions, he could not learn right from wrong and his "third
strike" was buying crack cocaine when he should have been living and
working as a member of a law-abiding society.

And now his mother wants society to give her son another chance. My
only question is, "How many chances?" In the meantime, why should
every member of our society who happens to be in Shane's path be at
risk? He could be driving a car high on cocaine or he could be robbing
someone's home or stealing from merchants for many. Any one of his
reckless acts will traumatize his victims and could ultimately lead to
the death of innocent people.

I am one individual who is willing to pay for Shane's food, shelter
and clothing for life. If criminals are feeling "violated" by the
"three strikes" law, something must be working correctly.

S. David
Laguna Niguel

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