California set a nationwide trend in sentencing reform when, in 2012, voters passed an initiative that reduced the sentences for non-violent three strikers. The result: thousands of prisoners serving life sentences got out of prison.
Other initiatives in 2014 and 2016 chipped away at the Three Strikes Laws. Thousands more prisoners earned release.
The latest development comes from an appeals court case, re Edwards.
Edwards holds that California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) regulations preventing nonviolent three-strikes prisoners from the benefits of the 2016 initiative, Proposition 57—particularly the opportunity for early parole—violates the text and intent of the proposition.
Edwards orders CDCR to issue new regulations offering early parole to three-strikes prisoners who were convicted of nonviolent crimes. The deadline is January 5, 2019.
“Some things still have to be figured out,” said Michael Romano, the director of the Stanford Law School Three Strikes Project. According to Romano, about 4,000 inmates qualify for early parole consideration under the Edwards ruling.
“This is a big deal because the governor is not appealing the decision,” Romano said.
“It doesn’t help everyone, but it’s moving in the right direction. We will win this thing eventually.”
Romano tells the incarcerated population to continue programming and keep themselves ready for release.
“I really do want to emphasize how important programming is,” Romano said, “For anyone going before the board, the most important thing you can do is program relentlessly and stay out of trouble.”