25 Year Prison Sentence for Possession of a Firearm

In People v. Cooper (1996) 43 Cal.App.4th 815, 823-824, the defendant contended it was cruel, unusual, and disproportionate under the federal Constitution to impose a 25-year-to-life term on an ex-felon for mere possession of a firearm. The Court rejected that contention stating: "Under the three strikes law, defendants are punished not just for their current offense but for their recidivism. Recidivism in the commission of multiple felonies poses a danger to society justifying the imposition of longer sentences for subsequent offenses. ( Rummel v. Estelle (1980) 445 U.S. 263, 284, 63 L. Ed. 2d 382, 100 S. Ct. 1133 . . . .) The primary goals of recidivist statutes are: '. . . to deter repeat offenders and, at some point in the life of one who repeatedly commits criminal offenses serious enough to be punished as felonies, to segregate that person from the rest of society for an extended period of time. This segregation and its duration are based not merely on that person's most recent offense but also on the propensities he has demonstrated over a period of time during which he has been convicted of and sentenced for other crimes. Like the line dividing felony theft from petty larceny, the point at which a recidivist will be deemed to have demonstrated the necessary propensities and the amount of time that the recidivist will be isolated from society are matters largely within the discretion of the punishing jurisdiction.' ( Id. at pp. 284-285 . . . .) "By enacting the three strikes law, the California Legislature acknowledged the will of Californians that the goals of retribution, deterrence, and incapacitation be given precedence in determining the appropriate punishment for crimes. Further, those goals were best achieved by ensuring 'longer prison sentences and greater punishment' for second and third 'strikers.' Such determinations are questions of legislative policy. Therefore, even if under the three strikes law California's recidivists are punished more severely than other recidivists, such severity does not render the punishment grossly disproportionate to the crime. (Harmelin v. Michigan (1991) 501 U.S. 957, 1005.)" ( People v. Cooper, supra, 43 Cal.App.4th at pp. 823-824.)