As elections take place tomorrow all around the country, Californians will vote on Prop 36, whose passage would be a vital step forward in reducing the senseless severity of California's notorious Three Strikes law. Both myself and the team involved with my new film The House I Live In are thrilled to have been be involved in the effort to pass Prop 36. Under current law, a defendant in California may receive a life sentence for a third offense that is petty or nonviolent. This often results in absurd results -- the nonviolent receiving longer sentences than the violent. This violates common sense and cries out for reform. We are proud to have worked alongside the Stanford Law School Three Strikes Program, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the LA District Attorney's Office to advocate for this change in law. If the law does change, a third strike would henceforth have to be serious or violent to result in a life sentence. This is common sense.
For many months after my film was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and before its theatrical release last month, The House I Live In was used as a gathering and awareness-raising tool to shed light on the tragedy of excessive and misguided 3 strikes sentencing across the country. California, whose law is singularly severe, in many ways led the nation into the epidemic of runaway sentencing we now face. It is inspiring to see Californians poised to pass Prop 36 tomorrow, a first step for California, and by extension the nation, to step away from the darkness of excessive and destructive sentencing in America toward a policy that is more just, more humane, and represents both smarter law enforcement and an estimated savings for Californians of $150 million per year.
Watch a clip from The House I Live In: