The Three Strikes Law has been a subject of much debate since its introduction as a regulation in 1993. The Three Strikes law was enacted in 1994 and is widely recognized as the harshest sentencing law in the United States. “The State of Texas was the first State to enact such a law in 1974. ” (Laws. com) California passed its own law enacting a Three Strikes Law that mandates a sentence of 25 years to life for a third felony conviction. The reality of the Three Strikes Law will lead to a significant increase in the nation’s already swollen prison population and will cost taxpayers enormous amounts of money.
This law is one of the most popular controversial laws because it imposes a mandatory life sentence without parole on offenders convicted of three or more crimes. “Reporters took notes and media crews collected sound bites as Republican Governor Pete Wilson signed into law this popular, yet controversial, sentencing measure.
” (Reynolds, 2012) The Three Strikes law is sentencing laws that mandate a prison sentence of 25 years to life for violent offenders who have been convicted of three or more offenses and is also a law that is codified in 26 states throughout the country and the federal government.
It is the imposition of a life sentence for any felony conviction, no matter how minor the felony may be, if the defendant has two prior serious felony convictions. A third strike offense can be a simple drug possession or petty theft. The Three Strikes law also has a second strike provision, which doubles the sentence for any felony conviction if the defendant has one prior serious felony conviction. California’s Three Strikes Law is thought to be the most popular and have the most severe three strikes law in the nation. Three Strikes Law 3 Three Strikes Law
The law applies regardless of the seriousness of the prior felonies. Under our system of criminal justice, the punishment must fit the crime. Individuals should not be executed for burglarizing a house nor incarcerated for life for committing relatively minor offenses, even when they commit several of them. This principle, known as “proportionality,” is expressed in the Eighth Amendment to the Bill of Rights. Is this a violation of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution? The 8th Amendment of the Constitution prohibits the use of cruel or unjust punishment by the state.
Many would argue that certain clients’ prosecution under the law violates the amendment. If just one case violates the amendment, the law is unconstitutional and should be overturned. (BalancedPolictics. org) In 2000, California voters passed Proposition 36, which has converted the punishment for repeat drug possession from 25 years to life in prison instead to be sent to a facility for drug treatment. ” By 2001 over 50,000 criminals had been sentenced under California’s Three Strikes Law, far more than any other state, with almost one quarter of the inmates facing a minimum of 25 years in prison.
Over 45 percent of inmates serving life sentences under the Three Strikes law are African American. (Stanford, 2012) California’s State Auditor estimates that the Three Strikes Law adds over $19 billion to the state’s prison budget. California’s non-partisan has concluded that there is no evidence that the law contributed to California’s decreasing crime rate. (Farlex, 2013) Although later adopted versions of Three Strikes Law vary among the states, the laws generally reduce judicial discretion by mandating severe prison sentences for third and in some cases first and second felony convictions.
Three Strikes Law 4 Three Strikes Law “California ‘s Three Strike sentencing law has helped bring down crime throughout the United States. ”(Reynolds, 2012) The Three Strikes Law was enacted to reduce serious or violent crime rates. According to official ballot materials promoting the law, the Three Strikes scheme was intended to keep murders, rapists, and child molesters behind bars and to protect society from these dangerous individuals who show a pattern of recidivist and lawlessness behavior, and possibly deter others from committing similar criminal offenses.
This law is much stricter than prior laws. At first a person convicted of two serious felonies, such as burglary of a residence and robbery, who then committed a third serious felony, such as another robbery, would only have been sentenced to seven years. The Three Strikes Law has overcrowded the prison system beyond capacity. The overcrowding has gotten to the point where courts are considering ordering the prisons to release some of the prisoners with many of these inmates not having received any rehabilitation or vocational training to prepare them for the outside world.
Today, it costs about $20,000 per year to confine a young person that is physically fit, but three Strikes laws would create a huge, geriatric prison population that would be far more expensive to care for. The estimated cost of maintaining an older prisoner is three times that required for a younger prisoner. It would cost about $60,000 per year for an older prisoner. The cost might be worth it if older prisoners represented a danger to society. But experts tell us that age is the most powerful crime reducer.
Most crimes are committed by men between the ages of 15 and 24. Three Strikes Law 5 Three Strikes Law “Only one percent of all serious crimes are committed by people over age 60. ” (ACLU, 2002) Many offenders who have been sentenced in accordance with the Three Strikes Laws were convicted of non-heinous crimes such were as little as petty thefts that are ordinarily misdemeanors punishable by 6 months or more of imprisonment. The Three Strikes Laws are not only unfair to defendants who have been convicted of minor offenses but it is also unfair to the taxpayers as well.
These taxes will just be spent for the rehabilitation of congested prisons instead of spending the same for social services that definitely can benefit the public. Three Strikes Law 6 Conclusion The enforcement of the three strikes laws will continue based on the hope that it will eventually deter recidivist from committing crimes. Many have argued that this law is effective in reducing the number of serious felonies committed by recidivists and will continue to work as a prevention method in future.
However, these laws shall undergo an amendment to the penalties imposed and the years of imprisonment shall depend on the gravity of the offense. Amendment of these laws shall be done for the purpose of achieving the true intent of this law and that is to stop and prevent violent crimes and cut unnecessary spending in order to keep criminals incarcerated for life for third strikes on nonviolent crimes. The Three Strikes law will never be a deterrence for repeat criminals.
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