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Racial Divide: California’s 3 Strikes Law

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In Category : Place Based Reform, Long Prison Terms, Criminal Justice Reform, Racial Equity

California’s Three Strikes law has been plagued with questions about racial fairness since the beginning. The early case of Jerry DeWayne Williams, the so-called “pizza thief,” highlighted the potential application of the law to people convicted of non-violent crimes, and raised awareness of another issue lurking in the background. Williams was African American. The criminal justice system in America is beset with many racial and ethnic disparities, and the early application of California’s Three Strikes law appeared to increase existing disproportionality. This research brief is intended to examine the impact of Three Strikes on racial and ethnic minorities.


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