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Initiative Backer Wants Lighter Sentence for Son

June 03, 2004

Re "Man Bankrolls Initiative to Change 3-Strikes Law," May 31: I agree that the penalties under the three-strikes law are ridiculously harsh for those whose third strike involves petty felonies such as shoplifting.

But the two young people killed by Richard W. Keenan were not loaves of bread, and a reduction of this man's sentence under a revised law would be an outrage.

Jerry Keenan provided his son with a gold Lexus and permitted him to drive it on a suspended license. Now two people are dead, a third seriously injured and the elder Keenan hopes money will pave the way for his son to further avoid responsibility. Too bad there's not a three-strikes law for bad parenting.

Tracy Rowland

Toluca Lake

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Our governor is a multimillionaire movie star. Our president and his biggest challenger are multimillionaires. And now Jerry Keenan has spent more than $1.5 million to prevent his son from serving his sentence for killing two people.

Just how much more power over our lives are we willing to hand over to the wealthiest fraction of society?

Richard Keenan's victims didn't die as the result of an "accident" -- he used drugs and alcohol, then got behind the wheel with a suspended license and drove 95 miles per hour. If his father truly wants to reduce sentences for petty offenders, and the amount of taxpayer money it takes to imprison them, he should remove the initiative provision that could affect his son. Otherwise, he's just another rich guy who thinks the rules shouldn't apply to him.

David Daniel

Encino

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Your story about the initiative to amend the three-strikes law to pertain exclusively to violent felonies featured a whole lot of "maybes" and glosses over cold reality. The big "maybe": Will some kid in prison get a lesser sentence for his fatal car wreck if this initiative passes? There's a slight chance. But only if a court decides to retroactively reduce his penalty. That's a very big "if."

Meanwhile, here's the cold reality: More than 4,000 Californians are currently rotting away for 25 years to life for minor offenses, such as shoplifting and marijuana possession. And those forgotten souls cost us taxpayers more than $100 million every year.

They told us the three-strikes law would give life sentences to violent felons, not to shoplifters and pot users.

It's time to amend three strikes to make it work the way it was intended.

Patrick Meighan

Venice

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