To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #DoNow3Strikes

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Do Now

Do lengthy prison sentences help deter crime? Should voters or legislators be part of determining prison sentences?


In 1994, Californians approved a Three Strikes law that was the toughest in the nation. In addition to violent and serious crimes, felons convicted of shoplifting, drug possession and other low-level offenses were imprisoned for life terms. More than 9,000 people were sent to prison under the law.

That changed last year when voters in every California county approved Proposition 36. The measure softened the law to focus on serious and violent felonies. It was also retroactive, allowing current inmates whose third strike was non-violent and non-serious to petition local courts for release. This is one of the first time voters have passed a law reducing prison sentences in the United States.

Opponents of Prop. 36 argued that the original law contributed to a dramatic fall in violent crime in California over the last two decades.

However, early reports show that the measure does no appear to be endangering public safety. Of the more than 1,000 prisoners released under Prop. 36, fewer than two percent have committed new crimes, according to a recent report by Stanford Law School and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. By comparison, the average recidivism rate for a similar time period is 16 percent.

While prosecutors have challenged some Prop. 36 petitions, few have been successful. Still, in some counties petitions are getting stuck in the courts.

Several former third strikers say the bigger challenge though is readjusting to life outside of prison.

Because most third strikers have served so much extra time time they’re not placed on parole or probation. Sometimes that means that they don’t have access to substance abuse, mental health and other reentry programs.


The California Report radio segment What Comes After Prop. 36?
Some inmates are getting released early under Prop. 36, but there are as many as 2,000 more who are still waiting on their petitions for re-sentencing. So what comes next?

To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNow3Strikes

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.

We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets like memes or more extensive blog posts to represent their ideas. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.

More Resources

The California Report radio documentary Life After a Life Sentence
Today, we’re breaking our usual format to focus on one topic – a matter of sudden freedom for men and women sentenced to serve 25 years to life behind bars under California’s Three Strikes law. It’s been a year since voters approved Proposition 36, allowing Three Strike inmates to win early release if their third strike wasn’t serious or violent.

KQED Newsfix post California Third Strikers Have to Find Their Own Path to Freedom
A little more than a year ago, Californians voted to allow the release of third strikers convicted of non-violent, non-serious crimes. Since then, about 1,000 people have been released. KQED followed three men from prison to their new lives outside.

KQED Newsfix post A Year After Release, Only 2 Percent of Three Strikers Have Committed New Crimes
Convicted of stealing two car alarms from a Walgreens store, Richard Brown spent 18 years in prison under California’s notorious Three Strikes law. Then, quite suddenly, he was standing outside the gates of San Quentin earlier this year, a free man.

Three Strikes and You’re Out? 8 March,2017Lisa Pickoff-White

  • Zeke Deixler

    Passing this proposition was a smart thing to do. The whole point of making things illegal is because doing them would hurt people, and there are all lot of things that are felonys but don’t really hurt people all that much, for instance opening someone else’s mail is a felony but going to prison for it is rediculus. While the 3 strikes law is a good idea I think it needed to be toned down a little and this was the right way to do it .

  • Andrew Johnson

    I believe passing lengthy jail sentences helps deter crime and criminal activity in general. It helps reduce the risks of murder, theft, and illegal drug-related offenses. However, laws such as the Three Strikes law in California should be toned down. Offenses such as shoplifting do not need lengthy jail sentences as required for serious theft and murder.

  • Stephanie Sanchez

    I believe longer sentences help deter crime. They reduce the amount of murder, theft, and drug-related crimes. The new law that voters passed, “Proposition 36”, has not only softened the Three Strikes Law, but reduced prison sentences. This law is not only beneficial for non-threatening criminals, but the state as well. This law has helped the state by reducing costs and danger in society. Overall, I believe that voters should choose sentences for prisoners.

  • D corona

    Proposition 36 has reduced crime and I feel the propostition is great for reducing danger in society seeing the percentage rate low on criminals.Having longer sentences does help deter crimes and voters should give the decision on a prisoners sentence.

  • Luca S.

    l believe that longer sentences help reduce crime. It helps reduce the chance of murder, theft, and illegal drug-related crimes. The longer sentences helps to keep the criminal off the street for a longer period of time and the criminal will be afraid to commit another crime because the sentence will be long. The criminal will learn his lesson. I believe that we should be able to vote on determining prison sentences. It will help our country become safer for everybody.


    • Michael Angelo Batio

      No Luca, no!

      • Luca S.

        go away matchua

  • Bruce Wang

    I think the felonies will help to decrease the crime, it helps to reduce the murder, theft and illegal drug-related crimes. Although a lot of people will be caught in to prison, it will create a much more stable society than before so I think it’s right. But we should also help the people who has already been in the prison to realize that the crime is not right and make sure they won’t do it again. We also need to help them to live when they are out. We need a new law to help them to get jobs, it’s not only for them to live better but also for our country to become safer for everybody.


  • Simone Sanford

    I think that while prisoners are behind bars they should be required to participate in schooling, training and communication skills, so they can adjust better with society once they are released . With these skills they can further their education and get a job to support their selves and not rob innocent people for their belongings something simple such as a cell phone, possibly can lead into murder which is a much more bigger crime.

  • Adrian A.

    Yes, they let people in prison to spend time on what they did wrong. Voters should determine prison sentences.

  • John Miranda

    There is never such a thing as a perfect society, there will always be some sort of crime, one way or another. With that said, in my personal opinion, i think that this law is another step towards sorting out the real criminals from the ones who don’t know what they were doing at the time, either drivin by blind confusion on what is right or wrong, or driven by the pressure of others,or not actually wanting to do the crime that they commited, or they commited the crime under a circumstance that they could not get out of one way or another, sending those people back to their homes and familys. While keeping in the people who commit the serious crimes. Crimes that they know they were doing, and had a wicked intention to do so.
    Finally, the last thing to come to my head was the fact that with this new law, prison overcrowding would be lessened due to the number of “hard time criminals” being released, back into the world.

    • your mom

      you suck

      • David Ayarra

        har har har

    • Kaitlyn Bartling

      I see your point. But what if someone planned the crime themselves? Also, if a person does something illegal because they were under pressure, couldn’t they just say so? I don’t know what it’s like to fear for your life, but wouldn’t it be better to help others?

    • CHR!5_R@!D3R

      i watched californias taxes rise as i read this

  • Anthony N.

    Criminals that serve long times in prisons, especially ones that did crimes that weren’t so serious, such as murder would be pissed so, once they’re released (if they’re released), they might do more serious crimes. #Buildmoreprisonsandgrowsomeballs

    • adugan

      I think people who haven’t committed serious crimes shouldn’t be held for a long time in prison in the first place. Being angered by injustice is not a bad thing and will not necessarily lead to more serious crimes. If people weren’t angry about unjust sentencing, the practice would simply continue.

  • javier nunez

    i think the bigger the consequence the better , i mean people do make
    mistakes but it should be a warning and then then the serious
    consequences because its mainley about them not doing it again so we can
    be safe .

    • CHR!5_R@!D3R

      did you not read this? so if i were to commit 3 crimes and my final crime was stealing a pizza i would be sent 25 years to life in prison while theirs murderers out there waiting to kill you?

  • Shad Carter

    I think that there should be more “wiggle room” with the three strikes law. The courts should look at past and current offenses before giving out a life sentence. The law would be a good Idea for some criminals but should also be regulated and not given to all.

  • Brandon Peterson

    Everyone is different. A criminal that gets 20 years in jail may still be just as likely to commit a crime when they get out if they had gotten out 10 years earlier. As such, some people may require less time in jail, or more, to learn their lesson. There should not be a set time, but instead a set time range for certain crimes, that can be lessened or increased based on the person commiting the crime. Another problem that rises with lengthy prison sentences is the criminals reintigration with society. They may be lost if they do not have the proper resources to have a normal life, and may go back to crime if they have no other choice, even if they don’t necessarily want to. Like I said, everyone is different and should be treated and watched as seen best for their well-being and the communities.
    As for voting, everyone should have a fair vote on laws for prison. Everyone could potentiallly be effected by the law, so everyone should have a say in it.

    • Shad Carter
  • Sophia Moore

    I am very much in favor of Prop 39 and I am glad that it was passed, especially after reading the article “California Three Strikers Have to Find Their Own Path to Freedom” by Michael Montgomery, Lisa Pickoff-White and Suzie Racho. This article focused on three people and their lives after prison. Each of the former prisoners was able to reshape their lives and start fresh, but not easily. One of the three, Pete Marin, talked about how the system actually did it’s job by making people turn themselves around. We actually call prisons “penitentiaries” for this reason. This comes from an idea born during the Enlightenment. People began to believe that prison should be a place to pay penance and afterwards they would learn from their mistakes.
    I think that consequences do work and they are necessary. However, I also think it is also important that we are careful about who gets what consequence. It would be ridiculous, for example, to sentence someone to life for a petty theft, hence Prop 39. If an inappropriate sentence is given, all hope of recovery and renewal in one’s life can be destroyed that easily.

  • Skylee&Hayden

    Hayden: I think that lengthy prison sentences do not help deter crime, prison sentences in general help deter crime. I do not think that voters should have a say in the sentencing of an individual, they could have biased views on the case, prejudices, etc.

    Skylee: I think lengthy prison sentences do reduce a little bit of crime, but will never be capable of ridding all crime. Going to prison is undesirable, so most people would choose to avoid making choices that would put them there. But I think it is unfair to the prisoners that their whole life could be stolen away and be spent rotting in prison. People should have the right to be released earlier and have another chance at things. I also think that voters and legislators should both be a part of determining prison sentences so that things are fair and everyone can produce some input. We all have equal rights after all so what’s the difference anyways?

  • Bailey


  • Skylee&Hayden

    Hayden: I do not think that lengthy prison sentences help to deter crime, but prison sentences in general help to deter crime. I also believe that voters should not have a say in the sentencing of an individual because they could have a prejudice towards them, or a biased thought on them.

    Skylee: I think that lengthy prison sentences do reduce the amount of crime in our society, but I also feel it is unfair to the prisoners. I think this because prison is not a desirable place to be in so people choose to avoid going there by not committing crimes. Therefore, less crimes are committed. I feel that lengthy prison sentences are unfair to those being punished for their crimes. It is unfair to take away someone’s right to freedom and basically steal the remainder of their lives in prison, rotting away. I believe everyone deserves another chance, maybe even 100 chances if they need it. I also think that both voters and legislators should be a part of determining prison sentences so that it is a fair decision. We are all equal people after all, so what’s the difference?

  • Camille

    I think prop 36 is a great thing! Everyone is different and some people will learn from their mistakes by going through jail time, but others wont. In my own opinion life sentences belong to dangerous people who are menacing to society. I would hate to see someone spend the rest of their life for robbing a corner store or possessing drugs, although it wasnt there first offense. It makes sense that the jail time would be longer if you had a previous offense, but the amount of time deserved really depends on the severity of the situation. Because everyone is different each case needs to be dealt with individually to have an appropriate sentence, not just put under a rule.I read In the article by Michael Montgomery where he said a year after release less than 2% of people committed new crimes. I think that may be due to the fact that these people were expecting to be imprisoned for the rest of their lives, and so given this fourth chance, they are using it! The people who didnt use their fourth chance well, they are probably back in for life!

  • Marcus Binion

    In my opinion I Suggest that the government should keep this law as it is because even though there are petty crimes you shouldn’t do bad things.

  • Henry Zhu

    There’s something wrong with the Three Strikes Law. It is supposed to give life sentence only to three serious felonies. How do petty thefts count as felonies? I agree with the fact that repeat offenders should be severely punished, however I don’t think life sentence is necessarily the right answer. I like Prop 36 because it gives some leeway on whether or not the crime should qualify as a serious felony. I think any repeated offense deserves prison time, but only enough so that the offender changes and repents. If you over sentence the people, not only is it unfair, but it also wastes tax dollars. In the source the interviewees mentioned the hardships of being let out of prison without parole. I think that the people should be given more money, maybe 400, and should contact family members so that the people being freed will have a place to go.


  • Devin H.

    I don’t believe that extending prison sentences will help discourage crimes because I doubt the criminals care about prison time anyway. If all people feared prison, then no crimes would occur; but that is not the case. I think passing Proposition 36 was the smart thing to do. I do agree that people who repeat crimes several times should be punished more, but making the sentence when completely disregarding the type of crime committed is wrong. Also, when the punishment doesn’t fit the crime and too much prison time is sentenced, tax payer money is put to waste. In the link below, this article even states that the three strikes law did not even help lower crime rates nearly as much as it was advertised to. As far as determining prison sentences, I think neither voters nor legislators should be a part of it. I say this because both of these sides can and will be bias when given the opportunity to decide the future of a person’s life.


  • Koda C.

    I am glad that this Prop went through. And I completely agree with John Miranda right now because he makes a very valid point. We want to get all of the real criminals. The criminals that could actually cause a lot of damage. The criminals or “bad guys” that don’t really show much threat can always be dealt with later as long as the dangerous criminals are handled and taken care of. I know I would rather send a person who robes a bank to jail first instead of a 7/11 thief. Although if you look at the bad coming from this Prop you can see that a lot more criminals will be on the streets now and I think that we need to be ready for that. At least many of the already third striking criminals will be serving more time in prison, explained by my source. Prop 36 is a great thing and hopefully if it works like it is expected to, then there will be a lot less crime due to people not wanting to go to jail even longer then they expect to.


  • Gabriel Llamas

    i think that thier should be a three strikes law for criminals who commit violent or other serious crimes. i think that criminals who commit non violent or not serious crimes should go to jail not for life it should be something reasonable. I also believe that longer sentences would reduce the crime. I think adjusting to life a prison I think would be really hard on prisoners.

  • Nora M.

    It seems logical that extending the length of prison sentences would help deter crime because the longer the punishment, the more the offender of the law realizes their mistakes. However I don’t support that idea. About 160,000 people are currently in California prisons, and if they didn’t want to be there, they wouldn’t have committed crimes (I suppose that depends on each person’s situation of why they committed a crime but let’s just assume before committing a crime they at least considered the possibility that they might be put into jail). So why would a longer sentence make a difference if they don’t care about being imprisoned and would probably commit a crime again? Before Proposition 36, many people that were serving lengthy amounts of time in prison had committed small crimes that were not worthy of such harsh punishments. But WITH Prop 36, only serious crimes receive those 3rd strike punishments. I think legislatures should decide how long those sentences should be according to how severe the crime was.

  • Clare R

    I think I have mixed feelings on Proposition 36. Even though it lets out the prisoners who are serving unreasonable sentences, those “third-strikers” are released and left with nothing but a bit of money. All the people interviewed in the article “California Three Strikers Have to Find Their Own Path to Freedom” (by Michael Montgomery, Lisa Pickoff-White, and Suzie Racho) seemed to be very lucky in the way of a family and a home to go back to. But that is not the case for everyone else. Lengthy prison sentences do seem to help deter crime rates because those 1,000 people that were released after Proposition 36 was passed all didn’t have the resources and enough knowledge of the new world they were thrown into to commit more crimes. Either that or they learned their lesson and don’t want to go back to that dreaded place.


  • Jake Ng

    Proposition 36 isn’t a very good proposition. Yes, Prop 36 releases people who received outrageous sentences for petty crimes, but after they release these three strikers they are left to fend for themselves. After being in prison for so long the ones who were released have a hard time adapting to their new life. Most three strikers who are released have served so much extra time that they’re not placed on parole or probation. Proposition 36 has a lot of potential to really help these people who received such long sentences, but without re-entry programs to help them fit into society again they are in a sense being abandoned.

  • Ryan Kelley-Cahill

    I do believe that the longer the sentence, the more likely a person is to have learned their lesson. The longer the sentence the more assurance the public has of that person being reformed. As sighted in the article at, only 2% of three strikers committed crimes again. The three strike law helps protect our citizens from the constant flow of crime. As for whether or not the public should have a say in prison sentences, I totally feel that the public needs to be involved in determining prison sentences, it directly affects them. Why wouldn’t the public have a say on how they want to deal with criminals?

  • Ellie Teare

    Personally, I think that Prop 36 is a good thing. Since only 2 percent of released inmates have been charged with new crimes since the law was established, I think we can agree that a longer sentence won’t make that much of a difference. Especially since, I think, many people who have served time in jail change from that experience. I wouldn’t want to go back to that kind of life. Although I do think its hard for released prison inmates to get their life started again after being released, in the article “A Year After Release, Only 2 Percent of Three Strikers Have Committed New Crimes” it says “they give you $200 and kick you out.” I don’t think that gives much hope to a newly released inmate. We need to help these people restart their lives so they won’t fall back into the lives they were living before.


  • Sandy Evsanaa

    Reading this article, I now realize why we have one of the worst prison systems in the world. Instead of punishing them for their mischievous behavior, we should follow norway’s example of rehabilitating the prisoners. They have one of the most humane prisons in the world and they have the lowest reoffending rate in the world. But all we want to do is punish them and release them. And the. They repeat the cycle again. That’s just sad.,29307,1989083,00.html

  • Billy C.

    I think that the length of the sentence is likely to deter a person from crime but it’s a gamble much like an addict going through rehabilitation, relapse is always possible. I support the Three Strikes Law as well as Proposition 36 as with the Three Strikes Law it is important to deter habitual crime while people may deserve some leniency if the Third Strike is non-serious or non-violent. The big problem that is apparent with released inmates thanks to Prop 36 is the lack of support getting back to normal life as described by Robert Watts a former inmate, “They give you $200 and kick you out, and they don’t give you any type of papers to indicate that you can go down to this program or (that) program.” I think that these people are deserving of some program that can help them reintegrate and reapply themselves into society. Without it, we are putting them in a place in which they are likely to commit a crime again.


  • Michael P.

    Hypothetically,lengthy prison sentences would prevent criminals from repeating crimes.
    However, research has shown that the three-strikes law in California has not
    affected the rate of crime. Crime has been decreasing at a similar rate in
    every state. Prop 36 was effective in releasing prisoners who were jailed for
    petty crimes, but left many with no means of integrating themselves back into
    society. Legislators should determine prison sentences based on the severity of
    the crime committed.

  • Matthew Cunanan

    I feel like I agree and disagree with Proposition 36. It is way too much for somebody that has done something as simple as drug possession or any other simple crime to have to deal with live in prison. I believe life in prison is only for major crimes such as murders. Yes, it does help reduce crime. Possibly they can extend the sentences of people who have their three strikes, but life in prison is way too much.

  • Winnie Zhou


    From the knowledge of what I know about Prop 36, I really don’t know where I stand, whether to support or be against. I mean, there’s always positives and negatives for each side. Though, I think lengthening sentences to minimize may help, there’s the down of it too. The longer we keep prisoners means the more we have to provide for them such as food and shelter. And we can’t really do that if we bring prisoners in and have limit amount of space in each facility unless we start paying more taxes to keep them in there. But, shouldn’t we spend the money on other things like education instead? But if do continue to deal with Prop 36, will the rates of crimes go back up since we already started releasing prisoners. Also, the source I used showed me that some released prisoners aren’t that happy either. They feel that there’s no where to start a new life with just $200 and to have everyone treat you with the respect of lower than a slave.

    I think voters and legislators should be obligated to determine prison sentences. Because this will affect whether we can live in a safe environment or not, we need be part of the decision making for prison sentences

  • Eli Solomon

    I think lengthy prison sentences help deter crime a little bit, but they only work up to a point. There also needs to be some rehabilitation as well as time just sitting in prison. There should also be more prevention of crime, like programs to help poor and mentally ill people. The study “Incarceration & Social Inequality,” by Bruce Western and Becky Pettit shows that people who have more education tend to have a lower chance of going to prison, so we should also try to educate people more. This would make sure there is no crime in the first place. I also think voters and legislators should be part of determining prison sentences, because these are the people being affected. We are a democracy, and that means we all get to decide about important issues, and this is definitely an important issue.


  • Hank Smith


    I believe that lengthy prison sentences are proven to not be as effective at deterring crime from happening again when people are released but instead prevent crime by intimidating people. The proof behind this lies within my other source that says only 2% of 1000 prisoners released early due to prop 36 have gotten involved in crime again in comparison to 16% of prisoners before the prop was in act. I also think voters should decide the prison sentences for crimes by vote but not decide the amount of time for certain prisoners because then it could be bias.

  • Daysia Adams

    In my opinion, no matter how long a persons jail sentence may be if its not a death sentence then you really can’t predict that if that person is still alive when it is time for them to be released that they will be a better person. No matter how bad jail may be , it still doesn’t take away from the fact that the inmate did a crime. Yes i do believe that the kind of crime they commited does determine how life will be like once they get out. I say this because if a person murders someone and still has the opportunity to get out of jail and then are released that person whether people around them are aware of it or not has killed someone in their life. I do also agree that the jail system should really focus on very heinous crimes but at the same time smaller crimes lead to even bigger ones. The time that the prison sentences are don’t deter crime because i mean a person going in jail will have a worse mentality in jail then they did before but thats just my opinion. To me, a person will still have the same mentality they had going into jail as they will coming out because i mean it wasn’t like if they were taken to jail they would have stopped whatever they were doing. Especially considering the fact that there are a lot of gangs that are being created inside of prison , most people aren’t being made a better lifestyle in jail because that sense of negativity is still there. You cannot get better still being surrounded by other people who have done wrong . But that’s all you will see in jail. I don’t necissarily think that voters and legislators should be apart of determining how long a person will serve in prison because people may have different views or opinions based upon their own belief systems. I do however believe that people should have the right to help decide which crimes should be taken more seriously then others. There are a lot of prisoners who are in jail for reasons that could have easily been settled in much easier ways with more solutions. Many people who do crimes that are worse than some in jail are still walking the streets today and that is nowhere near okay. I think we live in a society where we tend not to focus on what we know is right, but what society portrays as right and that leads to the segregation of our judicial systems and the way our government runs .

  • Breanna Dean

    I think that there should be a little bit of sympathy for the people going to jail because i mean it isn’t easy being convicted and leaving the ones you love going into a not only dangerous enviorment but a place where you aren’t getting the help you need to learn from the mistake you made before going into prison. Life sentences are no joke because people don’t have the opportunities to go see their families or anything. Visitation time isn’t enough. In america we literally have really bad prison systems and the more people going to jail for stupid things the more problems we have. Of course people who have been in prison for crimes that are very low on the totem pole of things that the courts should be worried about will eventually rebel because they have been in prison for so long without any guidance or anything. Going back into the world that you were taken away from wouldn’t be a natural feeling for anyone. I think we still must have sympathy for those who do commit bad crimes because people can change but as bad as our systems are there isn’t any help in place for these people.

  • Omar Salgado

    I think that its good that it passed because there’s too much people in prison. The more people crowed the more violent they get in there. And when they get out they stay with that mentality with having to look over there shoulder. I also think that prop 36 is moving to slow because the longer they are lock up they are vulnerable to commit another crime in prison. Theirs also a bad side to it which is most of these people are angry from being locked up to much. And they might commit another crime or have a bad effect because theirs no jobs.


  • Avery Andrews

    I think that instead of making a rule like the 3 strikes rule, we should look at each case separately and make conclusions according to that case. It is simply unfair that a person can rob a grocery store and go to prison for the rest of his life. All of those people that stole about 5$ worth of products from Safeway are now costing the government hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Although life sentences can insure that that person won’t do that crime again, I think there are other ways. Many people come out of prison “a changed man” and have realized that what they did was horribly wrong and will never do it again. So it really depends on the person, I think that you may not need a life sentence for you to become “a changed man”, whereas others may.

  • Rowan SS

    Lengthy prison sentence dont deter crime. The threat of being locked up in jail for a long time has been going on for a long time and yet it is not causing people to stop committing crimes. No one believes that they could get caught; if they did then they wouldn’t do it. It may stop those certain people from committing crimes again outside of prison again, but it doesn’t seem to work at preventing others from committing the same crimes. The 3 strikes law seems unfair in many cases where the person had done small scale crime and because of that sentence their lives are ruined forever.
    I think that the judge should be who determines prison sentences. Every case is different from if it was a major crime to if the defendant appears to be able to be rehabilitated or not. One hard role may not be the best choice for every case and it is the judge’s job to determine what needs to be dealt with.

  • eli.park

    i think that this proposition could be a good thing.The people who have done serious crime would get get there long sentences while the people who have done minor crimes would not get a really long sentence for that minor crime.

  • jiahao S

    There is too much people in prison so i think that is good that it passed, the more people crowd the more violent they get in there. And i feel like i kinda agree with Proposition 36, and i belive life in prison is only for major crimes such as murders.

  • Christopher Boyd

    I disagree with law. I feel like if they do the crime, they have to do the time in return. This law is putting criminals out on the street again. This could even make the crime rate go up.

    • Michelle Dwyer

      I agree. People who get arrested for the littlest stuff get life in prison, and to me that’s not fair but if they keep doing it then they can be put for like 25 years. But the people who do first degree murders will not get another chance they will be put in for life

  • sean.leonard

    I believe the Three Strikes Law was given a propeor adjustment. shop lifting 3 times isn’t worth life in jail. He might have steadily longer periods of time in jail, but otherwise the three strikes should be over more serious crimes like resisting arrest, robbing a bank, or causing a lot of calateral damage, just to name a few ideas for serious crimes that aren’t murder level serious. As for the people being released, by the sound of it this should’ve been done much sooner. Hopefully these people will be able to live normal lives again.

  • Alex M

    I think that long sentences can (in some cases) deter crime. Although life in prison after a few mere shoplifting charges is far too extreme, I do believe that the penalty should be longer after several of the same offenses. This doesn’t mean that shorter sentences should be handed out for offenses such as serial murder, but multiple low-level crimes should be met with increased prison time.

  • Francesca Botto

    I think that the longer prison sentences should be given to those who have committed more serious crimes. It only seems fitting this way. People should receive consequences for the damage they have done. With that in mind, it is also true that making prison sentences longer does deter the crime that has been committed. The threat of lengthy sentences have not been very effective in lower crime rate thus far. I think that this proposition can do some good, but not as much as they think it will.

  • Jasmine Masih

    I think that whatever decision is taken about the consequences of crimes should be made with the consideration of humanity. We should be careful to not abuse power and not play the role of God. “Humility is not cowardice. Meekness is not weakness. Humility and meekness are indeed spiritual powers.”-Swami Sivananda. We do need to set a standard of law so justice can prevail, however, we need to make sure that punishing and some of these sentences are not because of craving power. We need to assure that everything we do is for the better and not a playing God role.

  • Jae Hun

    I believe that extending prison time will not lower the crime rates. People who go in to prison, commit crimes because they have to sustain their lives. Extending the prison time will not help, unless the economy growths rapidly.

  • Caroline P

    Due to the fact that most of the released inmates are doing fairly well in society (only 2% commit crimes again,) I believe that the new consequences and the new releases are completely appropriate. The fact that upon departure from prison they are not given access to drug and alcohol abuse programs is inappropriate. To simply ignore released inmates and not give them access to programs is sick. They already served time in prison and whether or not you see that as an appropriate punishment or not, their life after prison should not set them up for failure again.

  • Ameena H

    I do think that the Three strikes law is good in a way because the people who commit three serious or violent crimes should go to prison for quite some time. But also i do not think its very fair for a person to get a life sentence for a small crime like shoplifting, but at the same time they should still have to serve time in prison but not as much. People who commit small or serious crimes should be punished because they committed more than one crime knowing that it is illegal and should have to take responsibility for their actions, and isn’t that what they went to jail for? Only 2 percent of Three strikers a charged with new crimes and i think it is because they did not like prison and would not like to go there again, which means they learned their lesson.

  • Jenedra Walker

    the lengthy prison sentence doesn’t determine a person sentence. voters shouldn’t have any say in this because it has nothing to do with them. they could have a different point on things. we are equal in our own ways we should be treated or handled with in our own ways! #nuffsaid

  • Caroline H.

    I think that a Three strikes law is probably an effective way to prevent criminals from committing more crimes because they know that there will be a more serious consequence for their actions. But, I don’t necessarily think that someone who has committed small or less serious crimes should be sentenced with being in prison for life. Instead they could be punished with a longer sentence then that crime would usually allow, but not automatically sentenced with life in prison.
    Also,criminals should not be expected to come out of prison, have no resources or money and be expected to go back into society and get on their feet.
    “If you take somebody who has been imprisoned for 16 years and then put them back into the community with no resources really you are setting them up for failure.”

    This quote explains how it is very hard (if not impossible) for a former inmate to come out of prison and jump back into their life as an upstanding citizen. There should be some things we can do to help them get back on their feet.

  • Justin Stewart

    I believe that something like the three strikes rule should be in place, but not as life in prison. Although three-strike qualifying crimes are all non violent, things like theft shouldn’t go completely un-punished.

  • MichaelRichie

    I recently did a presentation to a 6th grade class when the Three Strikes law was introduced as a prop, and I do believe lengthy prison sentences help to deter crime. Prison sentences should reduce the amount of crimes in our country, but this prison isn’t a place for people to be in, so people choose to avoid being forced to go there by not committing crimes. The law should be able to look at the courts and should also take past and current charges before giving out a life sentence.

    I also reviewed a source that explains life sentencing, and I think that giving out a life sentence, or even 25 years in a prison is very, VERY expensive for American society to handle. Especially if the crime they commited that made them go to jail in the first place isn’t that bad.

  • Allen Z

    I believe that minor crimes shouldn’t have lengthy prison times because it causes the prisoner of the small crime to get violent and adapt to the people around them. Bigger crimes like murders, bank robberies, etc should get life in prison because they have already gotten to a point of violence where they can’t go back. In my opinion,proposition 36 will be good for a majority of the third strikers. Say if it’s a small crime and its their third strike, then the crime will have a regular trial without the influence of the other two trials.

    For example from :
    2 men, both served a lengthy time in jail with third strikes had to served more time,”Richard Brown, 61, was sentenced to 25 years to life in 1995 after he was arrested while stealing two car alarms from a Walgreens store in Stockton. Brown, a former heroin addict, served prison time for assault in the 1970s.” But since Prop 36 passed they were released out of prison with programs to help them getting back into society and life.

  • Cami Galt

    I could argue the three strikes law either way.
    I mean it could be argued as a good thing because it gets repeat offenders off the
    streets and out of trouble for the rest of their lives and it sounds really
    good in theory but there are also bad things about the three strikes law. One argument is that we spend too much money on prisons which it arguably true since we spend more on prisons than on state collages and our tax money could be going to things like education, roads(which are horrendous in California), or helping the poor. Another bad thing about the three strikes law is that the prisons are already overcrowded and should not be put in jail forever because it’s too expensive. At first
    glance it seems like the perfect simple solution but as you start to think
    about it you start to think it is a great idea in theory but the solution is too
    simple to work. On a related topic I think the judge or court should have full control over determining things like this because there are always exceptions. For example let’s say hypothetically if you steal a car you will go to jail for 5 to 10 years no matter what, but what if the only reason he stole it was to take his pregnant wife that was about to give birth to the hospital. The judge would have to put him in jail
    for at least 5 years even though he had a very good reason for taking the car
    and now he can’t raise his kid. This clearly does not seem like the proper
    punishment which is why the court should be able to decide the punishment based
    on each particular case. In conclustion the three strikes law is perfect in theory but as you get into the details of the law it has some flaws and forces tax money to go to jails instead of roads, schools, and helping the poor and it is kind of a harsh punishment for low level offenses.

  • Jeremiah Conners

    I agree, But what if someone planned the crime themselves? Also, if a person does something illegal because they were under pressure, couldn’t they just say so? I don’t know what it’s like to fear for your life.And they might commit another crime or have a bad effect because theirs no jobs.

  • davidjenny

    I think the three strikes law should be a bit more lenient. I think life terms should mostly be for serious and violent crimes and not for meager felonies. I agree we should make sure justice prevails, but make it overly excessive.

  • Guillermo Ruiz

    I believe that people who are being charged with minor crimes such as drug possession and shop lifting should get jail time. The current laws make sure that happens but the current laws also state that if somebody is caught with drug possession three times the you go to jail for life. This is where I agree with prop 36, prop 36 takes less focus on minor and puts the pressure on my violent crimes such as murder and rape. Prop 36 has helped more 1,000 inmates gets released less than two percent have re-committed crimes this shows that prop 36 is working in getting people out of prison and back to their normal lives with out committing.

    • Katie W-S

      (Lynn K.’s English class) I agree with Gmo. The 3 strikes with drug posession makes sense but the longer sentences should mostly be reserved for more serious crimes.If the inmates that are released aren’t dangerous then they should be given another chance at freedom. Even though this seems to be a good thing, the law really should include services to released inmates as if they were released in the regular fashion. They may need help adjusting to the world and how it has changed.

  • Abbie M.

    Because of the extremely high costs of keeping prisoners incarcerated for long terms, I think “punishment” or crime consequences should be more focused on constructive consequences, not just locking someone in a metal cell for twenty years of their life. In regards to the Three Strike Law, being conscious of the high costs of federal prison and state prison/jails alike, previous felon offenders should be first put into a state level jail on their third offense, but also required to get help for the impulse to commit crime that they obviously have. Putting people in prison only gets bad people off the streets; it does not, by any means, encouragement the betterment or recovery of people who obviously need help.

  • iromano

    Lengthy prison sentences do not deter crime – they merely prevent criminals from receiving any chance at redemption. I personally believe a life-sentence, with or without parole, is completely and utterly inhumane. The intention of prison should be to reform, rather than to merely let men and women live unproductive lives in prison. Prison would be much more effective if its end goal was reform rather than copious punishment. Yes, criminals should accept the consequences for their actions, but they should not be expected to rot in prison for the remnants of their lives. Crime is often an instance of blind passion or hate, and that should be reflected in the justice system. Repeat thieves and vandals should not receive life in prison. It simply does not equate. It does not make sense that millions of men and women are still being punished for crimes they committed in their twenties fifty years later. People change, and the justice system should change too.

  • Nick M

    Giving everyone a life sentence in prison will obviously keep them off the streets and away from committing crime. But this does not guarantee preventing crime by others in the future, nor should we think once guilty, a criminal can’t change his or her ways. Life sentences for murders is a better route than the death sentence, but it is a waste of our money on burglars and drug users locked up for simple, stupid decisions. Paul McDowell of The Guardian makes a peculiar argument when he states, “A slightly longer sentence just means a slightly longer delay in reoffending.” According to this argument, we might as well do away with prison altogether as McDowell assumes crime is inevitable. While it may be impossible to completely eliminate crime, the judicial system of the U.S. has made leaps and bounds in limiting and reducing crime as compared to the alternative.

  • Kai Sugioka-Stone

    I think that lengthy prison sentences only help deter crime if they are displeased by their sentence, because if they’re not, then it will have no effect. Also, if the person gets out, one of two things will pop into their head; One, they will not do what they did again because they do not want to go back to prison. And two, I don’t like them for doing this, I’m going to get them back for this. This relates to another article called “Life After a Life Sentence” by showing that some people that had prison sentences (but not life sentences) got out when the three strike law was passed, showing that letting them, out will also have a positive or negative influence on them. Also, I think voters should help determine prison sentences, since they are used to voting, and since they have to take their time to sincerely vote about someone’s chance to become the president, they will take the time to decide if people deserve life in prison or not.

  • Drake H

    The three strikes law was a dated law for the 21st century. Prison has a few purposes. To punish people who have done wrong, and to turn them into law abiding citizens when it comes time for their release. The three strikes law was a law that ensured the rest of your left be spent in jail after 3 crimes. The three strikes law wasn’t a terrible thing. 130 people were released from San Diego county as a result of prop 36. According to Bonnie Dumanis only 2 out of the 130 re offended. This proves that the long term sentences to help the fight against crime. Your increase of age is also a key aspect whether a criminal re offends or not. All in all, your sentence should not be a direct translation of your amount of offenses. This is a decision that the jury should make on the case at hand.

  • David Ayarra

    Yes, lengthy prisons do help deter crime, because the teach the person the consequences, and i highly doubt they will forget it. However there should be a couple more strikes instead of three to get such a sentence. I do think that we, voters and legislators should be able to vote on that. The prisoners are one of us, just they they did some bad things, but we should have more strikes.

  • brian l

    @KQEDedspace Prison definitely helps deter crime, but getting life in jail for a couple of petty crimes is overkill. More offenses should mean more jail time but life in prison is way too much. If prison sentences were too short people would not care about being put in jail and would never stop committing crimes. #DoNow3Strikes

  • Sebastian McDaniel

    lengthy sentences do help in my opinion but I think that all the lengthy ones should be for more serious crime such as Murder, Assault and all other more serious crimes. The other crimes I think should receive a smaller sentence

  • Bethany Kharrazi

    Lynn’s English 9: I think that lengthy prisions help deter crime depending on the crime committed. If it is more serious, then a more serious consequence should be given. If the crime is less serious, then a less serious consequence should be given. Having suitable results would help deter crime. Since our country is democratically run, I think that the voters and legistators should be able to be part of determining prision sentences. However, I do think that the person who committed the crime should have the right to defend themselves.
    In the California Report radio documentary Life After a Life Sentence, one man was interviewed and said that he made a group of inmates sang songs together and he was talking about how he changed for the better. He said that once he was out of prision, he sang in a church. It thought this was interesting becuase once out of jail, you would not think that someone like that would be involved with the community.
    There are many positive and negative aspects of the Three Strike law and Prop. 36 which I find very interesting.

  • Gerank Fok

    I read the article on this link:, and I believe that lengthy sent. does deter crime. A study was conducted and out of 1000 people, only about two percent was charged with a new crime a year after they were released from prison. I believe that voters and/or legislators should be allowed to determine prison sentences. They have been doing this with the three strikes law and it has been going very well.

  • Kobe Hutchinson

    This is quite circumstantial. It essentialy is about the crimes at hand, like repeated drug dealing or serious crimes that occur over and over with the same person. They should not be released, but in the case of less serious crimes like shop lifting food, or petty theft, where the person is not some crazy bad person who just needs to get by, they have a good chance of being released. Some people have done their time and are wasting their life in a cell. Long sentences can be uncalled for, but again, this depends from person to person.

  • Avalon Cassard

    I slightly think that longer time in prison helps to eliminate crime, and I do think that prison time does does effect the thoughts and ideas of people planning on commiting small crimes. I think the idea of serving a longer sentence in prison does almost “scare” people who are thinking of commitng a small crime to, basically, re-think that idea cause they don’t want to serve that much time. But I also don’t think people commiting bigger crimes, such as: murder, grand theft, etc, are very intimidated by the idea of a longer sentence. We will most likely never fully accomplish the goal of less crime, but I do think that this idea is helping.

  • Tina T.

    What I think about Prop 36 is that it is good and bad. It depends on the crime committed to my knowledge. If it was a serious crime like murder,then the punishment should be more serious. It is different depending on the crime committed and the bad and good side of the crime. If they kept prisoners in the cells for 10 or more years and it keeps on growing there is going to be a problem because many prisons won’t have as much room as they did and more and more people would take up more space which is not good. It’s great for prisoners to learn from their mistakes from the crime that was committed but not for 10 years and more. I think the voters and legislators should determine prison sentence.

    When I looked at

    I thought that this man should not have been in jail for 25 years just for stealing two car alarms. He shared his time and had a hard time in jail for many years. He is 61 years old now, and wants to stop prop 36. He didn’t have much when he got out of prison he just had some cash and that was it. He said:

    “We just get the regular
    $200 that everyone else gets, with no transitional programs. No type of
    assistance, no consideration of families being lost, families being separated,
    people dying, things happening in our lives over the years, or getting older.”

    I think this is very sad since he only gets the money and nothing else, not even information about his family. It is not very satisfying before and after jail for a prisoner who committed crime.

  • Andrew Ortega

    I think people who have committed major crimes should serve more time in prison because it teaches them the consequences so they don’t do it again. Also I think that voters should vote on how many strikes there should be. If they serve more time then it will help our country be safer.

  • Rudi S. S.

    Lynn’s English 1 Class:
    As I was reading through the introduction and the three resources, many thoughts came to my mind. At first I thought of the security issues and the many problems with the new law but as I read more I realized that this law was not an act of stupidity or malice toward the people. This law is showing compassion to the many thousands of prisoners that hopefully have learned their lesson. The 2% of the prisoners that have not learned their lesson and changed something within themselves, they minds are messed up and I hope that their punishment is justly decided.

  • Lily K.

    Lengthy prison sentences have caused a huge impact on prisons, and many are over populated. By charging people for non-violent and low-level offenses in addition to violent and high-level offenses, there have been over 9,000 people thrown into prison.

    After reading about three people that were affected by the Three Strikes law, (, I realized that this law really puts people in inconvenient situations. For instance, Richard Brown, one of the three people, had no place to go, no money, and no job. Also, Robert Watts said that parole would’ve helped him get a place to stay because they need him to stay somewhere, and parole would’ve given him “this funding to help [him] through basic needs.”

    With this article, I have come to realize that people that have committed non-violent, low-level crimes should receive not as lengthy prison sentences, and should be given the chance to be on parole. They may have committed a crime, but they’re still people. They still have families to take care of. They still have their whole lives in front of them. Why confine their lives to a small cell when they only need to be there for less?

  • Jordan Yu

    I think lengthy prison sentences help deter crime because it gives them time to think and learn their lesson. When the prisoners get out they don’t want to go back so they stop committing crimes and avoid trouble. According to a , San Diego county has released over 130 three-strikers, and so far only two have re-offended. I think voters should be part of determining prison sentences because there will be more people making the decision, and there will be more of a discussion.

    Source: California Report: What Comes After Prop. 36?

  • Aria-Grace B.

    I defienetly think that voters should be apart of the process of determening prison senteces because laws are made to make the world a safer and better place and if these people feel comfotable letting these people “free” to a certain extent in their world then i think they should put that in place.i think lengthly prison sentences wont help lower crime rate because common knowladge of people is not what some crimanals jail time was so unless it was more publicized the average lock up time that the majority of people that are being charged then i dont think it will really make a large diffrence in the overall aspeck of the community but more just induvidually on the peron being charged of the crime.

  • Sean

    To me, Crime is crime. It’s as simple as that. the three strikes law kept criminals in, away from the society that they were hurting. When let out some wont change, and will keep hurting society. Others, will keep to themselves and stay that way, trying to find a job. admittedly some of the inmates shouldn’t be in the prison due to minor crimes. others absolutely belong in prison. It’s just hard to tell if someone will change in prison. Some will, others wont. plain and simple. Lengthy prison sentences keep the people that belong way from us keeping the peace. wether or not they change is up to them.

  • Liona L.

    What I got out of this article and that radio segment is that prop 36 revises to law to impose life sentence only when the felony sentence is serious or very violent. If the third strike sentence is not very serious or violent, then it may be re-sentenced. In my opinion, lengthy prison sentences do not help deter crime effectively. The ways the people are treated would affect their behavior. By being thrown into a jail for a long time, people may act even more malicious. Prison is NOT meant to be a fun and happy place. The prison system in the United States is designed to punish the criminals, allowing citizens to obey the laws in order to avoid such a place. Though lengthy prison sentences do not cause higher crime rates, it also does not lower crime rates. Those who committed minor crimes should not be stuck in prison for a long time. Voters should be part of determining prison sentences because it allows a nation to make a decision. The more people making a decision, the more opinions there will be. The more opinions there will be, the more people will focus onto the details, which is a positive thing.


  • Jessica Nguyen

    The idea of being caught and spending a long time in prison is meant to deter potential offenders from criminal activity and encourage more productive actions. But that does not always happen because not everybody thinks like that. Extending prison sentences would not discourage crimes simply because the circumstances of every individual is different; it all depends on the type of person they are. For some, it might need to take them their life to learn their lesson. But for others, they might have learned what was right the moment officers closed the cell door. The truth is we will never know how much time is enough for any criminal, which is why I believe that the length of prison sentences should depend on the crime committed.

    The article about three people who had been reintroduced to society after a lengthy prison sentence was very eye-opening: (|utmccn=(referral)|utmcmd=referral|utmcct=/education/2013/11/15/three-strikes-and-youre-out/&__utmv=-&__utmk=147581365) What was difficult to understand, though, was the severity of their punishments for a such a small crime.

    When Pete Marin was thrown back into the world after serving 18 years in prison, he stated: “…when we got off the freeway, the area where I grew up at, I didn’t even recognize it…The cell phone thing; I would be in my cell, and we would see TV, and we would see people, everyone texting and using the cell phone. I would think in my mind, ‘I would never do that. I’ll be out there, and I’ll be talking to people, and have conversations one-on-one with people.’” They had been so isolated from the world, that coming back into it, full swing, really disorients a person’s life.

    As for who should be part of determining prison sentences, I agree with another person’s point: the public should be able to determine prison sentences because it directly affects them. “Everyone could be affected by the law, so everyone should have a say in it.”

  • Kristy L.

    I don’t think that lengthy prison sentences help to deter crime because the prisoner did something bad and they should feel the punishment of what they’ve done. I think legislators should be part of determining prison sentences because according to this link, I’ve found:

    In 1994, California legislators and voters approved a major change in the state’s criminal sentencing law, (commonly known as Three Strikes and You’re Out).

  • Aitor Iriso

    I dont think lengthy times in prison help deter crime for everyone. Some may be thoughtful and reconsider what they will do once they’re done serving their time in jail but some convicts need to be intimidated or scared because they see time in jail as a weak punishment worth waiting because they’re in no danger of dying if they just serve time. Depending on the convict and crime that they committed, punishments should be assigned dispassionately and correctly.

  • Martin.Gasca (A.Aron Balakay)

    I don’t think voters or legislators should determine a person punishment because quite frankly it is not their job. A voters job is to vote and a legislators job is to write or pass laws and that’s it. Their job is not to decide someone’s punishment. It is the job judge’s job. It voters and legislators were to decide a person punishment it would kinda be waste to have a judge. I also think that lengthy prisons sentences may help reduce crime because it will give them time to think of what they did wrong but then again they can just be using all the time to plan another crime or something.


  • Sarah C

    Lynn’s English 9: I think that the three-strike rule may deter crime, but it costs a lot of money to put people in jail and hold trials. Maybe the rule would be more reasonable if the number of strikes was increased. Life sentences should only happen if someone keeps committing serious crimes on purpose.

  • Madison.s

    From what I’ve seen here, proposition. 36 has allowed the outrageous sentences to be sort through better with unreasonably punished inmates being released. However the proposition does not better the people after being released. I know if i had been locked for a long time and then sent into a world where everything has changed and no one was there to lead me i would be lost. These people who have suffered because a law grouped them together in sentences and were not taken into unique consideration will be in need of guidance. Criminals, confused americans or people who just need a better life should always be looked at as individuals with many reasons for their actions. Long prison sentences are needed to keep crime rates down but they will only make an impact if used on criminals that deserve them. The prison times should be fit and fair to the crime committed and not determined by a law that fits mass amounts of people into 3 part conditions. You can see in these articles and in, “What comes After,” the people have the power to give others their lives back. People today are still fighting to be judged fairly and we the new generation have the power to help.

  • Sayuri F.

    The passing of this proposition was most definitely a step in the right direction. The harsh punishment for minor, non-serious or non-violent offences is highly unnecessary, and doesn’t send quite the message i think we really need. The next step to take to help these inmates would probably be to make sure they are getting the resources they need after their release (as mentioned in Life After a Life Sentence), and develop funded programs to aid and support them. It is unsure whether or not lengthy prison sentences help deter crime after inmates are unexpectedly released, but giving these sentences can really be a wake-up call for inmates and give them sufficient time to reform and take their past mistakes into real consideration.

  • Alfonso H.

    Do lengthy prison sentences help deter crime?

    I don’t believe lengthy prison sentences should determine the criminal or prisoners time for a punishment. It should be solved by what crime they did or what the court says how long it should be. Even after the prisoners have successfully done their time in there head they should lean from the mistakes and to avoid doing it again.

    Should voters or legislators be part of determining prison sentences?

    I think they shouldn’t be able because a voters and legislators are only allow to say if the law should be appropriate for a daily life.other than that they have no other role as voter or legislator to decide a mans life.

  • Reginald mosley Moon

    I do not believe that lengthy prisons sentences help deter crime. Crime happens in prison all the time. The California report radio reports that most three strikers who were let out did not commit more crimes.

  • Jake Nations

    Lengthy times in prison help deter crime does not help everyone. Time can change people and they think on their actions and make them a better person once they get out of jail and released into the world. Some people can not change, they are so mind crippling and don’t realize what they done, and the sentence does not faze them. Depending on mental capabilities on people and what crime they committed should be what punishment they are given.

  • Kenyon Shutt

    I think that to have long prison sentences for the purpose of intimidation is important, but I don’t think it’s important enough to have people who commit petty crime to have a super long sentence. It eats tax money and it is pointless: someone arrested for drug possession, for example, probably just made a bad choice and does not deserve a billion years in jail. What was brought up in the audio player made me realize how important time in prison is. When he talked about crime rates going down simply because former inmates are getting older and therefore less likely to commit crimes, and the fact that some inmates haven’t seen a cell phone before, it makes it sound unimaginable how much time can be wasted for stealing a car, or petty theft, or something like that.

  • Jackie C.

    I don’t think there is a yes or no answer to whether or not lengthy prison sentences deter crime. It depends on the person, you can’t generalize this over a large amount of people. Some people change and some people don’t. Even if lengthy prison sentences do deter crime in general that doesn’t mean we should let inmates who are safe to the society to stay locked up. I think it’s good that many inmates are being re-sentenced now because of proposition 36 but it’s terrible that they have no support when released. They should have more support for spending extra time in prison not less. They are setting them up for failure.

  • Glen Taggart

    I think that obviously, long prison times have a disincentive effect on criminals, but they are also unkind to the prisoners and expensive. I wonder, if we shortened the stays of prisoners, and used the money saved by having shorter stays to increase enforcement, what would that do to our crime rates? What is more important, disincentive, or enforcement? If I think of being in jail for 5 years or for 10 years, those are both extremely long and similar to me, and if I were to have to commit a crime, I feel that I would be more likely to do it in a place with a larger sentence but less chance of being caught, so maybe shortening stays and increasing enforcement is a good idea. I certainly think voters should have a say in how prisons work, they are the ones being locked up and they are the ones being protected, so they should determine how it works.

  • marisa wood

    I dont think that long prison sentences help at all. The people should vote on the punishments.
    I watched a life after a sentence for my extra resource. It was very interesting. Its crazy how people do bad things when they take drugs.

  • Griffen Vojvoda

    I do not believe that longer criminal sentences will deter crime. The USA as it is has the highest incarceration rate of county in the world ( The USA should focus more on preparing people for living crime free when they get out of prison, and less on the sentencing.
    I believe that both voters and legislators should have a say in determining prison sentencing. However, I am worried that if legislators get to vote on the matter of prison sentencing that they will become corrupt as the US is one of the few countries with for profit prisons(

  • Jordan H.

    Lengthy prison sentences do help prevent crime but only during certain circumstances. Determining prison sentences should be a combination of both voters and legislators consent on bills passed.

  • Skylar Herrera-Ross

    In my opinion, lengthy prison sentences are stupid. First off the government has to provide food, shelter, health care (etc). All these of which the government is paying for. By having long prison sentences it drains the money from the government and on top of that it does not deter crime. Also, I do think voters and/ or legislators should be a part of deciding prison sentences. It would give the votes a say- and I think that’s really important. The second source I looked at was ‘ A year After Release, only 2 percent of three strikers charged with new crimes’. Even though this article kind of contradicts what I said earlier- it does prove a point. Even though the facts are 98% of three strikers do not commit new crimes I still think it’s not worth it.

  • Brandon C

    Prison is an excellent way to deter lawbreaking in most respects. People don’t want to be cooped up in a small room for months to years on end, and doing crime can result in said punishment. Also, removing the lawbreakers from the streets helps lower crime rates in general. The more long sentences get stamped on the serial killers and burglars, the less dangerous people are on the streets.

  • Maliha M

    i completely agree that the time of a sentence corresponds with the crime. What other way can you connect a crime with it’s punishment? placing them in special levels or detention blocks is one way to include their punishment but i think that time being assigned is a perfect way to straighten out the criminals. It doesn’t mean that this is the only thing we can control but it should be a main focus for us.

  • Christian Ross

    This is one of the first time voters have passed a law reducing prison sentences in the United States.
    Opponents of Prop. 36 argued that the original law contributed to a dramatic fall in violent crime in California over the last two decades.
    However, early reports show that the measure does no appear to be endangering public safety. Of the more than 1,000 prisoners released under Prop. 36, fewer than two percent have committed new crimes, according to a recent report by Stanford Law School and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. By comparison, the average recidivism rate for a similar time period is 16 percent.

  • Daniel Bautista

    This is by far one of the most agreeable articles I have seen on this site. While it does help to release a criminal for doing only a petty or lower level crime, keeping a close eye on said ex-con would be the best form of action. Then there i the concept of ‘What does one do after leaving prison?” There is no life for them outside of the facilities sometimes. People say that its a bad idea to let them out because they’ll only commit another crime, but the only reason they’ll commit another crime is that we’ve given them nothing to carry along on the way out except about 200 dollars. We have to take responsibility for the fact that the subject brought up in the previous sentence is caused by us not providing them with a means of making a new life outside of prison.

  • Jake O.

    I agree with proposition 36 because I don’t think people should have long sentences for minor felonies. I don’t think that the longer the sentence the less likely it is that that they will commit another crime. I think that the longer the sentence the harder it is for the person convicted of the crime to adjust back into society similar to how animals raised in captivity find it hard to adjust back into the wild. The problem with prop. 36 is that it doesn’t allow the inmate any programs to help them adjust. This is a big problem because the person convicted of the crime is going to be more likely to commit another felony especially if they had spent a large amount of time in prison.

  • Koii B

    While lengthy sentences obviously deter crime some amount, they aren’t the answer to to everything. Each person has his or own situation, none are the same. Some criminals need to be put away for years, other’s won’t turn back to their old ways after serving their time. Criminals getting long sentences fills jails and costs the government money. Voters should not have say in a person’s prison sentence because they can be uninformed, biased or prejudice. These factors can lead to a criminal getting a sentence that doesn’t fit the situation in any way, shape or form.

  • Tallulah blue

    English 9th grade Lynn
    I believe that a lengthy prison sentence can be helpful for some people and not others. For instance a man or a woman who has raped and killed someone should be given life in prison or many many many years. Though a man or a woman who has been caught with drugs should not be given a lengthy prison because he has not committed a major crime but should not be able to walk away because they could not think about what the consequences are next time. That’s why I think you cannot decide the sentence until you know what he or she did and how long you think they need to understand what they have done but not go crazy and commit more crimes with their inmates. That is what leads me to does lengthy prison times deter crime? My answer is exactly the same as before depends on the person and how long they have to sit in a jail cell. See if an old man who was put in jail 60 years ago at the age of 20 could either be to old to commit a crime or would be crazy from living away from society. Though if he is a murder or rapist I don’t care if he goes crazy and chops off his own arm. Finally should voters or legislators be able to vote on a man or woman’s prison sentence; NO WAY. Voters would be biased, predictive and most likely not understand a reasonable time for the crime.

  • Tallulah blue

    English 9th grade Lynn
    I believe that a lengthy prison sentence can be helpful for some people and not others. For instance a man or a woman who has raped and killed someone should be given life in prison or many many many years. Though a man or a woman who has been caught with drugs should not be given a lengthy prison because he has not committed a major crime but should not be able to walk away because they could not think about what the consequences are next time. That’s why I think you cannot decide the sentence until you know what he or she did and how long you think they need to understand what they have done but not go crazy and commit more crimes with their inmates. That is what leads me to does lengthy prison times deter crime? My answer is exactly the same as before depends on the person and how long they have to sit in a jail cell. See if an old man who was put in jail 60 years ago at the age of 20 could either be to old to commit a crime or would be crazy from living away from society. Though if he is a murder or rapist I don’t care if he goes crazy and chops off his own arm. Finally should voters or legislators be able to vote on a man or woman’s prison sentence; NO WAY. Voters would be biased, predictive and most likely not understand a reasonable time for the crime

  • Mia Gerson

    Lynn Kameny 9th Grade Class:I don’t think prop 36 will be a good job cause what if they commit a crime again and they got out early again? so i really don’t think prop 36 is such a great job but if they were framed than yeah early outage but still if they did commit a crime again then prison and not getting out so early than they did for the last person.

  • makibk

    To me, Crime is crime. It’s as simple as that. the three strikes law kept criminals in, away from the society that they were hurting. But I do believe that on some terms lengthy prison sentences are pointless because statistics show that 30%
    of adult offenders released from state prisons are re-arrested.

  • Kyle Lintao

    Do lengthy prison sentences help deter crime? Lengthy prison sentences do nothing but put crime off. Due to this, criminals just focus on surviving in jail, before they focus on reflecting and reforming. The don’t see the wrong in what they did. Criminals are just like spoiled brats. They have been doing the wrong thing so long, that even after getting in trouble, they still think they can do whatever they want. No matter the consequence. Its only if the people come around them and discipline them into doing the right thing, and fearing the consequence that they change. Voters of various views should be part of the decision. Not just about prison sentences, but various consequences. It is obvious that prison sentences don’t work so there should be different consequences decided by the people.

  • Christian Deering

    Do I think longer prison sentences deter crime after getting out? No, I all these do is pause crime, once they get back out on the street they will do the exact same thing if not worse. Instead of prisons keeping them in cells for 9 months to 15 years they need rehabilitation places to send criminals when they do something bad instead of being in cells for long periods of time, sometimes even with their friends or other gang members. In some prisons they can do the same things they do in jail that they do on the streets ( seen here. Lengthy prison sentences don’t work counseling is the best bet.

  • Fletcher S.

    I don’t think prison sentences deter crime in all cases, in fact some homeless people do a crime to go to jail and get free food, showers, and a warm place to sleep. The idea of jail is (in my opinion) to make the person in prison unable to commit a crime. If a person for example, gets in a fight with someone, then they are given a short sentence to let them calm down. Anyways, my point is that the three strikes rule is not a good thing, as it only deters minor crimes and not violent ones.

  • Kyasia Thompson

    Yes i do believe that people who commit more heinous crimes should be convicted for longer times than people who are committing simple laws. They should be able to have strikes because of course no one wants to go to jail. And the people who are doing more bad things like murdering people need to be more focused on because it makes no sense for them to be able to be let free. It of course is good that this option has even been brought up. I do think that lengthy prison sentences do help with discipline but being in jail period is of course something that will deter crime because nobody ever wants to go back to jail. The voters shouldn’t have a say because I mean they could have their own opinions of that person.

  • Laymone Ducksworth

    I think the idea of serving a longer sentence in prison does almost “scare” people who are thinking of commitng a small crime to, basically, re-think that idea cause they don’t want to serve that much time. But I also don’t think people commiting bigger crimes, such as: murder, GTA are very intimidated by the idea of a longer sentence. Its a reason why they get back into crime because there dont have no home to sleep in no money an when they get out of jail there only give them 200 bucks.

  • Brittney Herron

    English 9th grade Lynn
    I think that jail is good for others and not as good for other people.
    the reason i am saying this is because that some people may be in there for something that they didn’t do. Yes people who have killed someone and are nuts yes they should be in there for alonger time. but if they did something every little that doesnt have to do with killing anybody or hurting anybody they shouldnt be in there for life



Lisa Pickoff-White

Lisa Pickoff-White is KQED's data reporter. Lisa specializes in simplifying complex topics and bringing them to life through compelling visuals, including photography and data visualizations. She previously has worked at the Center for Investigative Reporting and other national outlets. Her work has been honored with awards from the Online News Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists and SXSW Interactive.  Follow: @pickoffwhite Email:

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