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.”