Controversy Over 'Three-Strikes' Law

Re "Jesse Jackson Calls '3-Strikes' Laws Unfair and 'Fear-Driven,' " March 12:

I believe Jesse Jackson has been given bad information about "three strikes" by his advisors, so I'll try and explain some basic things to him. Three strikes is the law in California as approved by the majority of voters in this state. His opinion about it is irrelevant until he begins to condemn members of his community who rob, rape and kill innocent victims within that community, instead of crying "racism" against the justice system.

There's a 100% solution to the problem of being caught up in the three-strikes machine: Do not commit crimes. Poverty is no excuse. If it was, all poor people would be criminals and we all know that is not true.

Once a crime has been committed and the perpetrator has been arrested, he or she must suffer the consequences of his/her actions. Jackson should be standing side by side with the victims speaking out against the criminals, instead of spewing out ineffective rhetoric about a law that the people of California want on the books.

ANDRE' BELOTTO

Los Angeles

* Amazing! One judge does have a voice ("Judge Assails Garcetti for Treating Drug Charge as '3rd Strike' Case," March 8). But why have so many other judges remained silent when the evidence is so overwhelming that the three-strikes law is being applied by rote to nonviolent crimes? And at such a terrible cost to all, including us taxpayers. Judge David Yaffe is to be commended.

DAVE ENGLISH

Rancho Palos Verdes

* Re "Wilson Hails Results of '3 Strikes,' " March 7: Gov. Pete Wilson wants a $2.2-billion bond measure to build more prisons and he'll probably get it. Why? Because, like every politician who feeds off the fears of people, he has no real-life concept of what the root of the problem is--education. That seems really very simple to me. Build more schools, provide education and community services so there is opportunity and not despair, then our society would be better off.

We fill our prisons to overflowing, take away education opportunities for those inside, which breeds more despair, with no hope for those thousands and thousands of ever achieving a better life.

Yes, I feel saddened for those affected by murder, rape, robbery and so on. But the writing on the wall was seen 20 or more years ago, this problem just didn't happen overnight.

THOMAS YOUNG

Culver City

* As a criminal defense lawyer and the father of two public elementary school children, I wish to comment on the impending crisis our society is facing due to the ridiculous spending priorities in California. Last week I attended a meeting of parents of Apple Valley Unified School District children in the GATE program. GATE is a program for gifted and talented students. The parents were advised that the state had cut funding to AVUSD and other public school districts for GATE programs. Because of the cuts, the program is in doubt for next year.

The district attorney in San Bernardino County has decided not to allow plea bargains in three-strike cases. Accordingly, I have clients faced with life in prison for such crimes as stealing two pairs of blue jeans and a squirt gun from Wal-Mart, or in another case for possession of less than a gram of methamphetamine. Taxpayers will pay for lifetime incarceration for these people if they are convicted. Taxpayers will not pay for gifted and talented students to expand their educational opportunities.

The gifted and talented second-graders of today are our hope for society tomorrow. It's too bad we seem to prefer to spend the money on prisons instead of schools.

MARK SHOUP

Apple Valley

* God, I love this country! If you get caught with a vial of crack cocaine you go to jail forever, but if you're a judge convicted of taking $75,000 in bribes or a Republican campaign worker convicted of subverting the U.S. Constitution by conducting election fraud, you get probation (March 12).

LOU COHAN

Cypress

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