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The Knotted Line

Evan Bissell, Author

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1994: At the Old Ball Game!

1994: California passes the nation's harshest Three Strikes law with 72 percent support voter support. Three strikes against a person results in 25 years to life imprisonment. After first two years of enforcement: 15% of controlling (or most serious) third strike offenses are violent crimes, 31% are drug offenses, 41% are crimes against property.* (From Golden Gulag).
2012: Prop 36 passes in California, stating life imprisonment can only be imposed for violent crimes.   

Actions for Self-Determination:
  • 1996: Spearheaded by Mother's Reclaiming Our Children, Families to Amend Three Strikes (FACTS) comes together and begins advocating against Three Strikes. The group tracks the stories of 150 three-strike inmates who have been imprisoned for 25 years to life for offenses ranging from possession to burglary to petty theft (spare tire, donuts, etc.).
  • 2006: The Free Santos Reyes Committee holds a rally and vigil in front of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Reyes faces 26 years to life for falsifying his name on a driver's license test.

Discussion Questions:
  • What is the difference between crime and violence? Is there a difference?
  • Why was three the number chosen for the Three Strikes law? What does it have to do with creating safer communities?
  • An initiative to amend California's Three Strikes was narrowly defeated in 2004. After watching these two ads (pro and con), how would you have voted? What strategies do the ads use to convince the viewer? How do you feel after watching each one?
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