It's been 20 years since the death of Mike Reynolds' daughter, Kimber. She was killed by thieves outside a restaurant in the Tower District, in Fresno. Her violent death inspired Reynolds to write the three strikes law in an effort to prevent other parents from having to experience what he went through.
“Let's understand that the last 20 years, to keep California's three strikes on the books, it has really reduced crime by half,” said Reynolds.
Election night, California overwhelmingly passed Proposition 36. This means a life sentence will be imposed only when the new felony conviction is a "serious or violent" crime. The original three strikes law punishes minor crimes with a life sentence. About 3,000 inmates are now eligible to apply for a sentence reduction. Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims says it's a recipe for disaster, “They'll come out with no probation, no parole, nothing hanging over their heads, and they've already proven themselves to be serious and violent. Not only am I concerned about the public out there but also deputy sheriffs and law enforcement officers who are going to have to deal with these people again. As if we don't already have enough challenges we're dealing with right now. This is going to add to our already shrinking personnel.”
Reynolds says he's not giving up, “In the event that crime rates rise and become a public concern, then perhaps we can revisit this and maybe voters will decide that the old three strikes was better than the new and improved three strikes.”
Those who support Prop 36 say the reform will help strengthen the law's legitimacy. They consider the original Three Strikes law ineffective and cruel.