The 1994 kidnap and murder of 12 year-old Polly Klaas was the last straw for voters, who overwhelmingly passed California's Three Strikes initiative. As the law was written, convicts can be sentenced to 25 years to life with three felony convictions--even if those crimes were not "serious or violent." More than 7000 inmates are now serving third-strike terms in California prisons. For 3500 of those, the third strike was for forgery, drug possession, petty or vehicle theft. Even some three-strikes supporters say that's unjust and overly expensive. Proposition 66 on next month's ballot would amend the original law. Warren Olney hears both sides from LA County District Attorney Steve Cooley and Joe Klaas, grandfather of Polly Klaas.
- Reporter's Notebook: History, Politics and the Great Seal of LA County
If petitioners can gather 300,000 signatures by March, the Board of Supervisors must retain the cross on the Los Angeles County seal or call an election. Meantime, a lawsuit is asking for an injunction to stop removal of the cross, which will cost some $800,000. Historian D.J. Waldie, author of Where We Are Now: Notes from Los Angeles, offers some perspective on an issue which pits politics against history.
Limitations on Three Strikes Law (Prop 66)
Three Strikes Law
Yes on Prop 66
No on Prop 66