LOS ANGELES, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Five inmates convicted of relatively minor crimes have had their punishments reduced by a Los Angeles County judge.
Judge William C. Ryan is responsible for reconsidering the life prison terms of more than 1,000 offenders who were sentenced under California's three-strikes law, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
The law was softened three months ago when voters approved Proposition 36 permitting inmates sentenced for non-serious and non-violent crimes to ask for shorter prison terms.
Unlike some counties where many courts will handle the hearings, Los Angeles County has assigned a single judge to determine all of the re-sentencing requests.
The five inmates whose sentence reductions began the process on Monday included a 74-year-old who has served more than 15 years in prison for possessing $10 worth of drugs and an 81-year-old behind bars for more than 17 years for stealing dozens of packs of cigarettes.
Hearings for Los Angeles County inmates in Judge Ryan's court are expected to continue through much of this year.