Court blocks release of three-strikes inmate

Jack Leonard (Los Angeles Times) | April 30, 2013

An appellate court on Tuesday blocked the release of a three-strikes prisoner whose sentence was reduced under a California ballot measure approved last year, concluding that prosecutors have the right to oppose resentencing of third strikers they believe are too dangerous.

The panel of three justices threw out an order reducing Steven Joseph Kaulick’s prison sentence to seven years from 25 years to life. The new sentence made Kaulick eligible for immediate release because he had already served more than 12 years.

The justices concluded that Superior Court Judge Cynthia Ulfig should have given the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office the opportunity to argue that Kaulick was a danger to the public before she resentenced him in December.

Under Proposition 36, which state voters overwhelmingly approved in November, about 2,800 inmates sentenced to life terms under the three-strikes law can ask judges to reduce their sentences if their third strikes were neither violent nor serious under the law. Judges are required to resentence such offenders unless they determine that doing so would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.

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