Just as unusual as the passage of tax-raising Proposition 30 was the success of Proposition 36, which reduced some penalties under California's "three strikes" law. With homeless ex-cons being put away for life for stealing food or satisfying their drug addiction, even as California's overstuffed prisons were being forced to return thousands of inmates to county jails, it became clear to many voters that something was seriously out of whack with three strikes. The changes are modest and will assure that violent third-strikers still get life sentences, but less serious offenders will serve less time -- in many cases, double the term that a non-third-striker would have to serve. That's still a hefty deterrent, and helps explain why even many law-and-order Republicans supported Proposition 36. Still, it's a very welcome switch in a state where voters nearly always approve initiatives that strengthen criminal penalties rather than loosening them. Above: Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, Calif.
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