27 Three-Strikers Eligible for Release

Felons Returning to Santa Barbara County After Prop 36 Passage

Of the 90 defendants sentenced in Santa Barbara to mandatory life in state prison under California’s three-strikes law, 27 can now have their terms reconsidered, thanks to the overwhelming passage of Proposition 36 earlier this month, which allows leniency for felons whose third strikes were non-violent or non-serious. Those affected have two years to file a petition requesting a re-sentencing, which will be decided by a Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge based on the petitioner’s entire criminal history and prison record.

Included in the 27 is the first person prosecuted as a three-striker in Santa Barbara: Raul Zarate, who was busted for shoplifting at Home Improvement Center and resisting arrest. Should Zarate petition for re-sentencing, Prop 36 would give the judge authority to release him on the grounds that he’d served the maximum sentence for the third-strike offense. Statewide, prison officials estimate 2,800 prisoners are eligible for re-sentencing. under the terms of Prop 36.

While Santa Barbara prosecutors have availed themselves to the third strike provision of the three-strikes law 90 times, they’ve also secured tougher sentences for 235 defendants convicted of second-strike offenses. While many of the 90 were convicted on violent for serious or violent third strikes, 12 were convicted for burglary, 2 for vehicle theft, nine for drug possession, seven for possession with intent to sell, one for DUI, and four for “other.”

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