Criminal Justice: 1994

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Voters pass the "Three Strikes" initiative mandating a life sentence for any felony committed by a person with two previous convictions for a serious or violent felony. This and other "tough on crime" initiatives, combined with the federal "war on drugs," results in a surge in California’s prison population.

Federal judge Marilyn Hall Patel rules in Fierro v. Gomez that California's gas chamber is "cruel and unusual" punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution and orders the state to shut the gas chamber down. The state changes the method of execution to lethal injection.