Assignment - Three Strike Lifers
Under the 'three strikes' law in California a criminal convicted of a second serious offence must serve double the normal sentence. Those convicted of a third strike get 25 years to life.
Fifteen years ago, following the brutal murders of two girls by repeat offenders, Californians voted overwhelmingly in favour of a tough new crime measure. Under the 'three strikes’ law, criminals convicted of a second serious offence must serve double the normal sentence. Those convicted of a third strike, get 25 years to life. What makes the law different from similar laws in other states is that the third strike does not have to be a serious or violent crime. One inmate is serving life for stealing a pair of socks when aged 19. Now a group of law students at Stanford Law School are fighting to get some of the 'third strike lifers' released. For Assignment, Rob Walker investigates one of these cases: a Vietnam veteran sentenced to life for possession of 0.03 grams of heroin. And we meet the families of the murdered girls. They helped draft the three strikes law – but are now bitterly divided among themselves about its impact.