While California is on the cutting-edge of criminal justice reform, in large part, this is due to the extremely harsh sentencing laws enacted in decades past. Most notably, California’s three strikes law, codified in Penal Code § 667, provides for increasingly harsh sentences for those who have been convicted of certain felony crimes. In some cases, the California three strikes law can result in an additional 25-year to life sentence on top of the sentence for the most recent conviction.
The History of the California Three Strikes Law
Back in 1994, during the height of the war on drugs and while many California cities were plagued by the highest rate of violent crime in history, Governor Wilson signed AB 971 into law. AB 971 was known as the “Three Strike and You’re Out” law or, more commonly, as the “Three Strikes Law.”