Is It Time to Abolish Three Strikes? “The Return” Follows Newly Released Inmates Into the World

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May 23, 2016 by socialaction2014


California has released more than 1,500 inmates from prison since 2012. What happens next?

The Return, which debuts tonight on PBS, is a documentary that follows the journey of several former California prison inmates as they re-enter the world after serving decades behind bars under Three Strikes sentencing. Three Strikes passed in 1994 in the state and requires a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life for a third felony conviction. California voters modified the law in 2012 by passing Prop 36, which allowed for the resentencing and release of convicts whose third strike was a non-violent, non-serious offense. Since then, the courts have released more than 1,500 California inmates from prison.

Reason TV’s Zach Weissmueller sat down with Katie Galloway, who is one of the film’s two directors, and Kevin Bilal Chatman, one of the film’s subjects, who served 11 years for dealing drugs to an undercover police officer. Under Three Strikes, Chatman faced life in prison but was resentenced after the passage of Prop 36.

Galloway and Chatman discuss the role that Three Strikes has played in overincarceration, what “tough on crime” laws get wrong, the surprising politics of prison sentencing reform, the difficulties of transitioning from prison to civilian life, and what other states can learn from California’s experiment in resentencing.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Music by Chris Zabriskie. Approximately 13 minutes. Visit http://reason.com/reasontv for downloadable versions. Subscribe to Reason TV’s YouTube channel for daily content like this.

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