SACRAMENTO, CA - Some local inmates are one step closer to winning their freedom.
Judges are looking at resentencing inmates who are behind bars for life terms because of California's 3 strikes law, which was softened by Prop. 36, a law passed by voters in November.
Aaron Collins, of Sacramento, will be one of the first state prisoners from Sacramento County to be released because Proposition 36. Collins could be going home as soon as next week. He went before a judge Wednesday to share his story and ask the judge to consider his case for resentencing.
"I have changed my life. I'm proud of that," Collins said. "I have two degrees. I have a degree in paralegal studies. I have been published in the law books twice."
Collins is currently serving 25 years to life in state prison in Lancaster, near Los Angeles. He was serving time for burglary and a 1991 robbery. In 1995, he was convicted for having marijuana while he was behind bars at a prison in Sacramento, that was his third strike.
"I'm guilty of possessing marijuana while incarcerated at that time. I did deserve to be punished," Collins said.
Prop. 36 said inmates could be resentenced if their third strike - the trigger offense that put them behind bars for 25 to life - wasn't a serious felony.
On Wednesday, the judge agreed that Collins has served enough time, resentenced him and has given him the green light to be released.
"It has indeed given me hope. And I'm very content for that," Collins said.
Dozens of Sacramento inmates are expected to apply for a resentencing hearing because of Prop 36. But, they won't all be approved.
"No, being very vigorously scrutinized; just a narrow window for a narrow group of people," Chief Assistant Public Defender Karen Flynn said.
Attorneys and the courts are evaluating the 3 strikes cases up for consideration and making sure inmates are not a threat to public safety.
By Suzanne Phan, firstname.lastname@example.org