Thursday, February 05, 2015

People v. Rodriguez (Cal. Ct. App. - Feb. 5, 2015)

Read this opinion (and dissent), which involves a three-strike life sentence for having five tiny bindles of heroin for a guy who's now 59 years old.  He's trying to get resentenced under Prop. 36, and he's eligible to apply because he didn't commit any disqualifying offense.

The trial court, however, refuses to grant him relief.  It thinks he's still "dangerous" because he might commit future crimes upon release.  Even though even the state says that Mr. Rodriguez has been a "model prisoner," it -- and the trial court -- are worried that he might continue to engage in things like petty theft if he's released.  The Court of Appeal affirms.

I'll let the competing opinions speak for themselves.  I'll simply add that I'm fairly confident that the vast majority of the people who voted for Prop. 36 intended that prisoners like Mr. Rodriguez should not be bound to their mandatory 25-to-life sentences.

But maybe I'm just saying that because Mr. Rodriguez's history compares favorably to pretty much every single prisoner in The Shawshank Redemption.