by Pamela Martinez, CIW
I have, unfortunately, joined the ranks of persons convicted of a non-serious or non-violent felony under the three strikes law. I was sentenced to 25 years to life for petty theft with a prior conviction.
I am writing in hopes of initiating a movement in California to amend the three strikes law from its existing broad and overtly punitive guidelines. It’s a politically motivated and extremely punitive shortcoming in the California justice system. The comparison of this law to a game of baseball is in itself indicative of the legal system’s insensitivity to the dignity of a fellow human being. It demonstrates the indecent manipulation by law makers to gain popular acceptance of a law; when carefully examined its implementation exacts cruel and unusual punishment.
The sentencing scheme of the three strikes law destroys the concept of individual justice on which our legal system was founded.
At this time, there are over 22,000 persons incarcerated under the three strikes law for non-serious or non-violent felonies. California has the largest prison population of any state or federal penal system.
Was it the wheels of justice or the wheels of political machinery that duped the voters into believing that three strikes would all but eliminate vicious and heinous crimes? Less than 5% of “strikers” are incarcerated for a serious or violent crime.
It is a “witch hunt” of the new millennium.
Strikers have been portrayed as arising from the dregs of society, but I ask: who truly are the victims of prejudices and inadequacies within the justice system?
I was a paramedic for many years. I helped save many lives. I have not arisen from the dregs of society. Yet my life has been taken away by a sentence analagous to a baseball game. A conviction for what is basically a misdemeanor!
I learned through my years in the classroom that the justice system was instituted to secure the right of individuals to be judged as simply that: individuals. Yet, I was categorized and given a life sentence.
I ask you to support and endorse a revision of the three strikes law by advocating the real interpretation of this law. I ask you to re-incorporate integrity into the name and definition of “justice.” I ask from one human being to another.
A bill will be introduced in 1998, and it is up to us, as citizens, to let our legislators know that we want this law amended. Please help by writing your legislators.
by Pamela Martinez, CIW