“I Was sentenced to die by suffocating imprisonment for selling drugs.”
- Albert Reed Jr.
“I’ve long been a supporter of these reforms.”
- U.S. Senator John Cornyn (TX-R)
“this is a travesty. i want the world to know it.”
- Federal Judge James R. Spencer
what is america's 3 strikes drug law?
America’s 3 Strikes Drug Law isn’t easy to explain or understand. We get it. Lawyers often speak in confusing lingo that alienates real people from how the law really works. Confusion fertilizes the soil of injustice. That confusion is why the 3 Strikes Drug Law has been so catastrophic. We created the Third Strike Campaign to change that.
Here’s how the 3 Strikes Drug Law works - in really simple terms: Too many people are in prison for too long. For decades, America’s 3 Strikes Drug law gave federal prosecutors – not a neutral judge or jury – the absolute power to decide whether a person will die in prison. It’s like playing a basketball game with no referee. That's not fair. In 3 Strikes cases, judges were powerless from the bench. Prosecutors required judges to impose life sentences against people who refused to snitch or who exercised their right to a trial. America is safer and fairer when prosecutors punish crime - not when prosecutors punish a person's refusal to snitch or plead guilty.
There was progress in 2018. That’s when Congress lowered the mandatory minimum from life without parole to 25 years in prison for a third drug conviction. The problem is Congress did not make that new law – called the First Step Act – retroactive. That means the law left behind hundreds of men and women serving life today under yesterday's old 3 Strikes Drug Law. We believe the legitimacy of America’s laws depends on whether it moves forward and whether it looks back.