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California “Three Strikes” Law Imprisons Many With Substance Abuse Problems

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Many California inmates imprisoned under the state’s “three strikes” laws are much more likely than the general prison population to be addicted to drugs and alcohol, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The three strikes law allows prosecutors the option to pursue a 25-year-to-life sentence for anyone who has at least two previous violent or serious felonies, who is convicted of a new felony—whether or not the third crime is violent or serious. Home burglary is considered a serious felony.

Data from the state prisons department, which compiled the psychological, substance abuse and education profiles of thousands of inmates, shows the need for substance abuse treatment is overwhelming among those serving two or three strike sentences, the article states.

Two-thirds of inmates with a third strike show a high need for substance abuse treatment, compared with about half of all inmates. For inmates whose third strike was a burglary, 76 percent are at high risk for substance abuse.

Only 15 to 20 percent of state inmates receive drug treatment, even though up to half of the prison population shows a need for it, the newspaper notes. Funding for prison rehabilitation spending has been cut in the past few years. State officials have said they plan to expand drug treatment so it will reach up to 70 percent of those who need it.

California voters will decide next month whether to change the three strikes law, which is regarded as the nation’s toughest sentencing law for repeat criminals. The measure would limit life sentences to inmates who committed serious and violent crimes.

1 Response to this article

  1. Avatar of taesha russell
    taesha russell / January 14, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I THINK THREE STRIKES LAW SHOULD ONLY BE USED ON PEOPLE WHO PURPOSELY RAPED OR MURDERED SOMEONE.NOT ON PEOPLE WITH DRUG PROBLEMS OR DRINKING PROBLEMS.THE SYSTEM NEED TO GIVE THEM LONG TERM TREATMENT PROGRAMS FOR A YEAR OR TWO.AND ALSO HELP THE PEOPLE THAT GOT MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS THAT ARE TURNING TO STREET DRUGS BECAUSE THERE NOT GETTING THE PROPER TREATMENT FROM THE SYSTEM.SOME OF THESE 3 STRIKE PEOPLE HAVE HAD PROBATION OFFICERS THAT FAILED TO GIVE THEM HELP EVEN WHEN A FAMILY MEMBER KEPT LETTING THEM KNOW THAT THERE FAMILY MEMBER CANT BE WITHOUT THERE MEDICINE THE PROBATION POC DEPARTMENT HAVE FAILED THEM.THE SYSTEM NEED TO GIVE BETTER HELP AND STOP USING 3 STRIKES TO TAKE AWAY A PERSON LIFE THAT HAVE NOT RAPPED OR KILLED ANYONE.TAKING AWAY SOMEONE LIFE WITH 3 STRIKES BECAUSE THEY STOLE FROM SOMEONE OR BROKE IN SOMEONE HOME OR STOLE A CAR AND THEY DID NOT HAVE A WEAPON AND DID NOT TRY TO KILL ANYONE IS SAD.GIVE THEM SOME TIME BUT NOT 10 YEARS,15 YEARS,20 YEARS OR 25 TO LIFE.ITS SAD PEOPLE REALLY NEEDING HELP FROM WHAT THESE DRUGS THE GOVERNMENT STARTED PUTTING IN THE BLACK COMMUNITIES IN THE 80′S.THE SYSTEM NEED TO STOP USING THE 3 STRIKES LAW THE WAY THEY OUR ITS A FORM OF UNDERCOVER SLAVERY ON HUMAN RIGHTS TO A .THE POOR HISPANIC COMMUNITY AND BLACK COMMUNITY IS THE ONE SUFFERING THE MOST UNDER BEING IN JAIL FOR LIFE UNDER 3 STRIKE LAW THE LAW NEED TO CHANGE NOW!!!!!

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