A sentence of 25 years to life for stealing a leaf-blower may be reduced now that California voters have reformed the nation's toughest Three Strikes law. A 62-year old model prisoner who's done 16 years for a third strike on drug possession has already been re-sentenced to time served. We hear how long it will take to apply Proposition 36 on the recent ballot and how much money it might save. Also, will downtown LA hear the clang-clang-clang of a new streetcar line? Is it time to bring back the Broadway of old? On our rebroadcast of today's To the Point, can higher education be democratized on the Internet?
FROM THIS EPISODE
California's Three Strikes law was first passed in 1994, at a time of anxiety over violent crime. Offenders previously convicted of two violent or serious crimes could be sentenced to 25 years to life for any third conviction. Now, state prisons are so overcrowded that federal courts have ordered population reduction, but the state's voters may be ahead of the game. By huge margins in all 58 counties on November 6, they modified Three Strikes by passing Proposition 36. We hear from Michael Romano, Director of the Three Strikes Project at Stanford Law School, who co-authored that measure, and from Justin Brooks, Director of the Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy at California Western School of Law, which won release of the first nonviolent offender.
Streetcars were pervasive in Los Angeles in the first part of the 20th Century, but the last one disappeared in 1963. Now there's a move to create a new, streamlined version if downtown residents agree that property owners should be taxed for the purpose. KCRW's Saul Gonzalez has talked to both sides of the issue.
(Music: 'The Trolley Song' by Judy Garland)
If you've never heard of a MOOC, don't worry. Massive Open Online Courses began last year when Stanford Professor Sebastian Thrun put a class on line. He quickly enrolled 160,000 students — in more than 190 countries. Now Harvard, Princeton and other prestigious schools are offering MOOC's that reach millions of students worldwide. We hear about benefits and the limits of higher education on the Internet.