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First Nonviolent Offender Released Under Proposition 36 Thanks Lawyers

— The first nonviolent offender released under Proposition 36 is scheduled to pay a visit today to the California Western School of Law to thank lawyers and the school's staff for their help with his release.

Kenneth Corley, 62, was sentenced to 25 years to life in 1996 for a drug possession for sale conviction -- his third strike. He had previously been convicted of two felony "strikes" in cases that involved burglary and attempted burglary.

Last week, San Diego Superior Court Judge David Danielson re-sentenced Corley to about 15 years and he was released based on time served.

His release was the first following California voters' passage of Proposition 36, which modified the 1994 "three strikes" law to require the 25 years to life sentence only when the third offense is a serious or violent felony.

In cases of inmates who sought reductions in their sentences, a judge would be required to decide if the prisoner would pose a risk to public safety.

The request for Corley's re-sentencing was brought about by the Institute for Criminal Defense at the California Western School of Law and the San Diego County District Attorney's Office, according to school officials. Attorneys from the school spent several months working with the District Attorney's Office on Corley's petition.

"I applaud District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis for working with us to free him even before Proposition 36 passed," said Justin Brooks, Corley's attorney and a professor at the school. "It makes no sense to keep non-violent offenders in prison for the rest of their lives."

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