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Ethics and the three strike law

Discuss and critique the Ethical philosophy of a well known writer or individual. What are the strengths and weakness of the philosophy? How is it applicable to Criminal Justice?

Discuss the circumstances that ‘ethics' are implicated in Criminal Justice? E.g. Command-staff and co-employee relations (Fraternization), interactions between CJ practitioners and the public, gratuities, practitioner criminal/traffic misconduct, substance abuse, off duty and personal activities. WHY or WHY NOT is ethical behavior important in these areas?

Select an Ethics-related incident or incidents (e.g. as reported in the news) involving criminal justice practitioners or operations. Summarize the incident(s) and then explain HOW and WHY the incident(s) impacts criminal justice and society as a whole.

Three strikes laws are decree enacted by state administration in the United States which need the state courts to bequeath a mandatory and comprehensive era of incarceration to people who have been offended of a grave criminal offense on three or more dissimilar occasions. These decrees became very well-liked in the 1990s. They are officially known amongst lawyers and lawful educational as habitual offender laws. The term comes as of baseball, wherever a batter is allowed two strikes previous to striking out on the third. The precise purpose of the three-strike laws varies significantly from state to state. a number of states need all three felony confidence to be for violent crimes in turn for the obligatory sentence to be marked, at the same time as others most particularly California permission the superior sentence for any third criminal act conviction on condition that the first two criminal act were supposed to be either aggressive or grave, or both.

(CBS) The hardest criminal law in the ground was the theme of a main U.S. Supreme Court case which was this year. In addition to the decision, which was declared months following 60 Minutes II first broadcasted this characteristic last fall, was as intensely divided as the argument surrounding the rule itself. California's three-strike law declares that if somebody commits a third crime after committing two previous similar offenses, then the verdict is an obligatory 25 years to life. In a similar a case, Leandro Andrade was given but two prison term of 25 years-to-life for thieving nine children's videotapes, counting Snow White, Cinderella as well as Free Willie 2. Moreover the tapes were value $153.54, plus lawyers of California dispute that the sentence is both correct furthermore constitutional. However the other side squabble that Andrade's penalty is cruel in addition to unusual. Leandro Andrade, a 44-year-old criminal who might make legal history says that he is not a terrible person and he does not deserve to be imprisoned for his entire life just because a judge believes that is what he merits. In his verdict, Andrade age will be 87 previous to being entitled for parole. Andrade regrets the mistakes he did and he also says that he deserves to be punished. Nevertheless he thinks that the mistake he made was little and that it is not worth 25-to-life sentence. He believes he deserves three years maximum because he never killed anybody.
Previously in November 1995, Leandro Andrade, a U.S. Army expert and enduring heroin addict, state he required videotapes for Christmas presents for his nieces. So he tried to take the videos along with was caught by safety guards at the stores. Andrade was punished to life in prison. This happened for the reason that California is the solitary state where a crime crime can be completed into a third strike. It is referred to wobbler, provided that the first two offenses were obviously felonies, after that a third crime can propel a person to jail for 25 years to life.

Andrade acquired the 25 years two times for two incidences of shoplifting, which turn out to be his third plus fourth strikes in California's law. Andrade's first two strikes were pro home burglaries that were done back in 1983. They did not involve violence and in fact, Andrade did not bear a weapon with him for each burglary. Aggression was on top of the minds of California voters when they overpoweringly approved the three strikes law within the year 1994. The law's means of access was activated by the brutal assassinate of Polly Klass, 12, who was rushed from her residence, raped in addition to strangled to death by a tramp called Richard Allan Davis. Richard had a long as well as vicious criminal record; furthermore bureaucrats like Sen. Dianne Feinstein were tough supporters of the law.
Nowadays, more than semi the nations have some sort of three strikes law, although California has the strongest law in place. Erwin Chemerinsky who is Andrade's lawyer said that the law was put in place to put Richard Allan Davises locked up for life but not for shoplifters.

Constitutional issue which is involved in this case is the eighth amendment to the constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court said that disgustingly disproportionate penalties infringe the cruel-and-unusual-punishment section. On the other hand, the state of California differs; this is according to Grover Merritt, California prosecutor topping the struggle to keep Andrade imprisoned. He says that it is not cruel as well as unusual for the reason that they are not punishing Andrade for what frank might appear to be a slight crime, the shoplifting of the video tapes but he was being punished for failing to pay attention to the lessons of his previous history.
Merritt suggest that Andrade has a lengthy list of offense on his rap sheet: he has been a thief, a burglar, sneaked into people's residence, dealt marijuana in plenty quantity to get detained and put on trial by the federal government two times, he was a fugitive from a federal jail and lastly committed a petty shoplifting in Orange County, in addition to stole from Kmarts.
Although none of Andrade's offenses were violent, furthermore under the regulation, a third strike should only be declared if the first two strikes are for the same crimes. In this particular case, Andrade's ruin was repeated burglaries way back in 1983. When the case is taken before the genuine justices, Chemerinsky will not be in disagreement that the three strikes law is illegal, immediately Andrade's sentence. There is illogicality to California law. If Andrade's previous crime had been rape plus murder, the majority he could have gotten is a sentence for thieving videotapes was a year in prison but because the previous crimes had been assets offenses, he gets 50 years in prison which is just irrational.
Andrade is at Tehachapi Prison with more than 7,000 California criminals who have been struck out moreover over half of them have been found culpable of non-violent crimes. Their only means to opening the jail doors is Andrade. If Andrade succeeds many of non-violent three strikers in California could go free of charge on the grounds their sentences are also cruel plus unusual. However if Andrade loses, the majority will never see the exterior of the prison walls.

Nevertheless three strikers have populace rooting on behalf of them. They entitle themselves as FACTS which stands for Families against California's Three Strikes. Their previous efforts to adjust the three strikes law have been unsuccessful in addition to even politicians understanding them do not want to come out soft on crime. At the present, they are hopeful that the Supreme Court will assist them by verdict for Andrade. Nevertheless Merritt says their entreaty deserve to go unrequited.
Even jurors who established that Andrade is guilty don't have the same opinion with his sentence, which was forced by a judge at a separate trial. Actually, Deborah Freeman a foreperson on the Andrade jury did not even know the verdict before 60 Minutes II got in touch with her. She said that there is populace in prison that have murdered, that are serving fewer years than Andrade for selling videotapes which means she does not support the three strikes law.
The Supreme Court is keeping California's three-strike verdict law, verdict 5-4 that terms of up to life in jail are not too cruel for repeat criminals. The court supported a 50-to-life term for a gentleman who stole videotapes from Kmart plus 25-to-life term for a shoplifter who shoplifted clubs as of a golf course. The two men were charged under California's law for recur criminal activities. Hours following the court said that the 1994 rule does not automatically show the way to unconstitutionally cruel plus unusual punishment, relatives of those with three-strike verdict said they would request voters to alter the law to prohibit long terms for slight offenses. Gov. Gray Davis, within a weekly dialogue said that people who are culpable of three strikes are in general guilty of a lot of more crimes furthermore it has led to a enormous increase in public security over the precedent decade. He was pleased that the United States Supreme Court supports the law.

The court's judgment while tackling only California's law is estimated to protect less cruel repeat-offender laws on the manuscript in the states. The rules are intended to close the revolving jail door for profession criminals plus insist long terms for third-time offenses. Gary Albert Ewing had previous felony convictions for break-in when a clerk at an El Segundo golf shop saw him trying to run away with golf clubs swollen downward one pant leg. He was found guilty and judged to 25 years to life in jail. There is no option of parole earlier than 25 years.

Every attempt to bound California's three-strike law this governmental season otherwise in the earlier period for caring or prison financial prudence reasons has been unsuccessful or died from an endangered gubernatorial rejection. California Supreme Court has discarded hearing any confront that three-strikes is cruel plus unusual punishment. The U.S. Supreme Court's verdict noted the fame of three-strike laws in addition to the public fears concerning violent crime that resulted to them. State legislatures ought to have leeway to keep profession criminals away from the community, O'Connor wrote.

The cases are Ewing v. California, 01-6978, and Lockyer v. Andrade, 01-1127.

Controversial results: Some strange scenarios have happened; mainly in California the state penalizes shoplifting and alike crimes as felony insignificant theft if the individual who committed the offense has a previous conviction for any type of theft, counting robbery or burglary. consequently, some defendants have been sentenced 25 years to life imprisoned for such crime as stealing golf clubs Gary Ewing, preceding strikes for break-in and theft with a blade, nine videotapes Leandro Andrade, prior strikes for house burglary, or, down with a aggressive assault, a piece of pepperoni pizza as of a collection of kids Jerry Dewayne Williams, four preceding non-violent felonies, verdict later abridged to six years.

It is so unfair that in California, someone can obtain 26 years to life for stealing four brown cookies like a man called Kevin Weber, however in Florida you can assassinate a human being furthermore you will almost certainly not be penalized . This shows obviously how much the significance of a human life is looked upon in the US legal organization. It has over and over again been criticized that non-violent three-strikers are frequently harder penalized than murderers in addition to rapists, but not anything has been changed. A lot of Americans also believe that the death punishment is not a restriction at all and that blameless people have been put to death, but even though they know that, they would like to maintain it. About ten US States have intended to stop the death penalty this year, however so far just New Mexico has actually done so. Californian taxpayers should not pay for the life imprisonment of a cookie burglar; the money possibly will better be spending in health, social, as well as education systems. One in five Americans has no medicinal insurance. Californians should not fill the prisons with relatively harmless people as the prisons are filled to capacity, so there is no space left for actually dangerous criminals, also they believe that a brown cookie is more precious than a human life. According to my observation I think California should restrict its Three-Strike-Law to violent as well as serious cases, as other US States have done. I look forward to the Law being modified so that it can be fair.

In one particularly notorious case, Kevin Weber was sentenced to 26 years to life for the crime of stealing four chocolate chip cookies (previous strikes of burglary and assault with a deadly weapon). However, prosecutors said the six-time parole violator broke into the restaurant to rob the safe after a busy Mother's Day holiday, but he triggered the alarm system before he could do it. When arrested, his pockets were full of cookies he had taken from the restaurant.

In California, first and second strikes are counted by individual charges, rather than individual cases, so a defendant may have been charged and convicted of "first and second strikes", potentially many more than two such strikes, arising from a single case, even one that was disposed of prior to the passage of the law. Convictions from all 50 states and the federal courts at any point in the defendant's past, as well as juvenile offenses that would otherwise be sealed can be counted (although once a juvenile record is sealed, it cannot be "unsealed;" it does not exist any longer and there is no longer any record to be used as a prior conviction), regardless of the date of offense or conviction or whether the conviction was the result of a plea bargain.

Defendants already convicted of two or more "strike" charges arising from one single case potentially years in the past, even if the defendant was a juvenile at the time, can be and have been charged and convicted with a third strike for any felony or any offense that could be charged as a felony (including "felony petty theft" or possession of a controlled substance prior to Proposition 36 (see below)) and given 25 years to life. (In the California Supreme Court decision People vs. Garcia, 1999, the Court withdrew residential burglary from the juvenile strike list. For a juvenile residential burglary to count it must also be adjudicated in combination with another felony such as armed robbery, which is a strike. Out of the over 43,000 second and third strikers in California prisons today, none has received a prior strike for residential burglary as a juvenile.).

It is possible for a defendant to be charged and convicted with multiple "third strikes" (technically third and fourth strikes) in a single case. It is also possible for multiple "third" strikes to arise from a single criminal act (or omission). As a result, a defendant may then be given two separate sentences that run consecutively, which can make for a sentence of 50 (or 75, or 100) years to life. 50 years to life was the actual sentence given to Leandro Andrade.

As of 2007, California's state prison system holds over 170,000 prisoners in custody in a system designed for 83,000, and most California prisons currently hold populations more than double their design capacity. Using design capacity to measure prison capacity is a term unique to the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation. According to the California Legislative Analyst, the actual prison bed shortfall is 16,600, beds based on nationally recognized American Correctional Association standards. The state has progressively been forced to manage this overcrowded system year by year through various workarounds, including referring nonviolent drug offenses to special "drug courts" that mandate treatment rather than incarceration (see Proposition 36 below), early releases of prisoners, raising funds to build more prisons, and transfers of prisoners to the federal system or out-of-state privately run institutions with whom the state has contracted.

The system's healthcare system and several of its institutions have been found inadequate or inhumane by federal courts in successive cases, which have resulted in their being, placed under special oversight. The three strikes law has further contributed to the strain on the system by causing aging of the prison population.

In turn, as a result of all these factors, three-strikes sentences have prompted harsh criticism not only within the United States but from outside the country as well.

 U.S. Supreme Court response

On March 5, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court held by a 5-4 majority that such sentences do not violate the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment." In two separate opinions handed down on the same day, the court upheld California's three-strikes law against an attack on direct appeal from conviction, Ewing v. California , 538 U.S. 11, and a collateral attack through a petition for habeas corpus, Lockyer v. Andrade , 538 U.S. 63 (2003).

Writing for the plurality in Ewing , Justice Sandra Day O'Connor analyzed the serious problem of recidivism among criminals in California and concluded:

We do not sit as a "superlegislature" to second-guess these policy choices. It is enough that the State of California has a reasonable basis for believing that dramatically enhanced sentences for habitual felons advances the goals of its criminal justice system in any substantial way … To be sure, Ewing's sentence is a long one. But it reflects a rational legislative judgment, entitled to deference, that offenders who have committed serious or violent felonies and who continue to commit felonies must be incapacitated.

Successful California amendment

On November 7, 2000, 60.8% of the state's voters supported an amendment to the statute (offered in Proposition 36) which scaled it back by providing for drug treatment instead of life in prison for most of those convicted of possessing drugs after the amendment went into effect.

 Failed California amendment

On November 2, 2004, the state's voters rejected an amendment to the statute (offered in Proposition 66 ). 5.5 million voters (47.3%) voted yes, but 6.2 million (52.7%) voted no.

The amendment would have required the third felony to be either "violent" and/or "serious" in order to result in a 25-years-to-life sentence.

California's three strikes law, 15 years later

By Gina Giacopuzzi, San Diego News Room

In March, California's three-strikes law celebrated its 15th anniversary. Since its passage in 1994 by nearly three-quarters of voters, the law has become one of the most controversial and oft-mentioned in discussions over the state's prison system.

The three-strikes law was advanced by Mike Reynolds, a Fresno photographer, after his 18-year-old daughter was murdered. After one of her killers, a repeat felon, was released in nine years, her father went on the offensive. He maintains a website,, which recently released a 15-year study quantifying the reductions in crime and lives saved as a result of three-strikes.

“Since then, there have been over 3 million fewer serious and violent crime victims and 10,000 fewer murders,” Reynolds said. The study compares crime figures from 15 years before three-strikes to 15 years after, or the most recent crime numbers released (which are for 2007). “What's really astonishing is, we've seen an increase in California's population by over 50 percent, but a 50 percent decrease in crime.” Reynold references other theories that attribute crime reductions to a stable economy, but points out that crime hasn't increased since the recent economic downturn- and that California's violent crime dropped at twice the national rate.

In 2004, Proposition 66 was on the ballot to limit the application of the third-strikes law to violent crimes. Prop. 66 was defeated by 52.7 percent of voters, but the three-strikes law continues to be one of the first areas of law touted for reform in discussions over high prison populations and costs. Numerous court challenges have been filed in individual cases.

“I think if people were really educated about what (the three-strikes law) means, and its consequences, in both human and economic terms, they would vote to overturn it,” said Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former criminal defense attorney.

To Cohn, the problem with the three-strikes law exemplifies the problem with California's prison system as a whole—namely, the exclusive focus on punishment to the neglect of rehabilitation.

“California has one of the most regressive three-strikes laws in the country,” Cohn said. “You're basically locking people up and treating them like animals… rather than giving people job training, and having them work and support their families, where they can come out (of prison) and have some dignity.”
Last year, there were 41,284 prisoners serving time under the law, which requires a minimum 25-year sentence for third-time felons. Of those, 3,629 of third strikers were non-violent felons (although their first two offenses were violent felonies). Since third-strikers are often housed in maximum-security prisons, the average annual cost of housing, per person, is $31,000. The law also doubles sentences for second-time felons. The total cost of housing prisoners serving time under the law amounts to about $500 million a year.

“We need to revisit whether three-strikes is doing anything good… if it's fulfilled its promise,” said Professor Laura M.S. Berend, a professor at University of San Diego School of Law. “We're heading towards being geriatric institutions, and just (covering) medical costs.” The average cost of housing a prisoner over the age of 55 is $50,000 a year.

Reynolds argues that, with an increase in population of only 10,000 inmates a year, there aren't as many prisoners coming in as there were before three-strikes, and that once they're released, the law may act as a deterrent for repeat felonies.

“The recidivism rate for second and third time felons is at a much lower rate,” Reynolds said. He also points to an “extraordinary exodus” of inmates that have two or three strikes leaving the state.

When the law passed, the Legislative Analyst's Office called it “the most significant change to the state criminal justice system in more than a generation.” A year after its passage, the LAO reported measurable increases in prosecutions, fewer guilty pleas by defendants (and subsequent increases in jury trials), a backlog of cases in the courts (and subsequent focus on criminal cases rather than civil cases), and that about 70 percent of second- and third-strikes were for nonviolent offenses.

However, ten years after the law passed, the LAO reported that it had not resulted in the expected rate of growth in prison populations, although strikers made up about 26 percent of prisoners in 2004.

“A number of factors have probably contributed to a lower prison population, including the use of discretion by judges and district attorneys to dismiss prior strikes in some cases,” the report found. It did find that the average age of prisoners had gone up, and the number of inmates 50 years of age and older had tripled, attributed in part to the fact that “The so-called ‘baby boom' generation is getting older, and so are the criminals of the baby boom generation.”

Opponents of the three-strikes law, including Families to Amend California's Three Strikes, keep lists of felons who are serving 25 years-to-life for nonviolent or non-serious third strikes. They range from stealing a spare tire to drug possession. Cohn cites a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, Lockyer v. Andrade, wherein the defendant was given two 25 years-to-life sentences for stealing nine children's videotapes, worth a total of $153.54. Leandro Andrade's first two felonies were home burglaries. The Supreme Court upheld Andrade's sentence.

Proponents of the law say the three-strikes law has prevented a million serious or violent crimes every five years since its passage by keeping violent repeat offenders off the streets.

“Repeat offenders are already doing life on the installment plan,” Reynolds said, only half-jokingly. “The question is, are you saving a lot of money when they're on these crime sabatticals? An extraordinarily high percentage of violent crime is actually committed by a relatively small percentage of offenders, so three-strikes dropped that down. To suggest that some poor third-striker is being unjustly sentenced… an offender that's a lifetime criminal has a rap sheet going back to childhood.”

These advocates keep their own lists of criminals who would have been released on parole without the law, including repeat sex offenders, murderers, and kidnappers. A report by former California Attorney General Dan Lungren found that violent crime dropped almost 27 percent in the four years following passage of the law, with homicide dropping by 40 percent. However, the LAO report stated that, “Our survey… found that there is little consensus among researchers about the impact of Three Strikes on public safety, even after more than ten years of application.”

Conventional wisdom on criminal sentencing is that the costs of imprisoning criminals (both dollar costs to the public and the human toll on the inmate) dictate that incarceration should be saved for those who present a threat to society. A criminal who serves time in prison is more likely to commit subsequent crimes, and more serious crimes, than one who does not serve a time.

The disparities between nonviolent and violent felonies—and the fact that sentences for those felonies are often similar— are measured against the larger issue of how laws are made in California, and how ballot-box measures contribute to the current backbreaking cost of the prison system.

“This is a good example of a situation where there's a high profile case, and in response to the case there are voter initiatives placed on the ballot,” Cohn said. “These issues should be thoroughly considered by the legislature after hearing testimony from experts who have evidence relating to the consequences.”

Gina Giacopuzzi writes for the San Diego News Room where this story originally appeared.

This entry was posted on Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 1:58 pm and is filed under Arts & Entertainment, Politics & Government. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Reader Comments

Comment by: Frank Courser Posted: May 8, 2009, 4:27 pm

I would have to say this article contains many serious flaws. This statement is an assumption and has no study to back it up, “there have been over 3 million fewer serious and violent crime victims and 10,000 fewer murders,” Reynolds said. In fact every state in the Nation saw a dramatic decrease in crime. Strike-less states enjoyed a greater decrease in violent crime than did Three Strikes States. Mike Reynolds exaggerates his statistics in a flawed attempt to prove there is an ounce of efficacy in his law. Other studies show a much different story. None of the prior strikes have to be violent. Thousands are doing life because they had a prior of burglary somewhere in their past. It can include stealing a bicycle from a garage or storage shed. Two or three counts can come out of one case and juvenile strikes when a person is 16-17 years old are also used. Some time decades later to win a life sentence for a person who never had a violent past. Prop 36 had a great deal to do with reducing the amount of people in prison which has kept 40,000 people out of prison and into drug programs. Mike Reynolds is a victim vengeance advocate who could care less who is punished! Just so someone suffers for the death of his daughter. Many young women have become victims of this law and are doing life for drug and property crimes thanks to Mike Reynolds!

Comment by: Gina Giacopuzzi Posted: May 8, 2009, 4:40 pm

Frank- Thanks for your reply. In order for the three-strikes law to apply, the first two felonies do have to be serious or violent, although the third does not have to be. Comment by: Pray4Peace Posted: May 8, 2009, 10:14 pm

Frank Courser's comment tells it as it is without leaving out important facts, like violent crime decreasing in all states.

The three strikes law and California's unreasonably long sentences, unjustified parole denials, replacing mental hospitals with prison time, the and the broken, overwhelmed parole system are ruining salvage lives, are not keeping us safer, and are bankrupting the state. Comment by: delang Posted: May 9, 2009, 10:15 am

if you still like this dum law then get your check book out and pay for it this is the dummest law calif did and it braking this state.. Comment by: Frank Courser Posted: May 9, 2009, 11:02 am

Gina, unfortunately that is not what was stated in your article “Of those, 3,629 of third strikers were non-violent felons (although their first two offenses were violent felonies”. The problem with Three Strikes is what is defined as “serious”. Burglary PC (459) was thrown in this category. And again two or three strikes can come out of one case. So a subject can be called a habitual offender when three strikes came out of one case and say 10 years later was found to be in possession of a small quantity of a controlled substance. This twist the original intent of the law sold to the public that it would put the murderers, rapist and child molesters away for life. In fact there is not one person yet after 15 years to be sentenced under Three Strikes for 1st degree murder! Yet 690 have been sentenced 25 years to life for simple drug possession. Because they have no good time credits, its 100% time, they will do more time than a person convicted of 1st degree murder! In addition I had stated before “Treating all prior convictions as identical produces a system which is unconstitutionally arbitrary.” Meaning there is no defined difference between a person who committed three previous strikes of attempted murder and a person that committed three previous strikes of burglary. We throw all prior convictions into the same group without defining the threat to public safety. Comment by: phillip martinez Posted: May 11, 2009, 12:37 pm

What is this 3 strike law based on? Whoever named this law was in some bleachers at a baseball game, they should have been behind the computer studying the research. Do these baseball criminals get any chances(do they get any balls)? I hate this law: first of all it does nothing to improve our communities. Criminal are made faster then they are incarcerated; if this was not true prison rate would stay at a constant level. When I think about this law I keep seeing the same ignorant face in some people when they say ‘Lock those little termites, good for nothing son of a bitches' . Even if this law worked a tiny bit, its repercussions are not worth the while. There is also no research that says 3 strikes reduces crime. Let me tell you what 3 strike really does; I know it from a personal level. It destroys families and communities. The pain a family goes through when they find out their loved one is spending the rest of their life in a small compacted room is greater then any of the victims pain, except rape and murder victims. I believe for one criminal incapacitated 2 more are capacitated. The impact one rehab criminal can have in a community is greater then impact he can have incarcerated. Who do delinquents listen to? To those who understand them because of common experience. What I am trying to say is that instead of giving these people a quarter-centenarian sentence they should invest in rehabilitating them. If they were to reduce 3 years of the 25 year sentence they now have about 100,000 dollars to rehabilitate that person. I bet most inmates would have gone to a 4 year university and finished if they were offered a 100,000 dollars worth of scholarships. Comment by: Frank Courser Posted: May 11, 2009, 3:21 pm

Thank you Phillip for putting a real face to the slogan used to perpetuate the most unjust law in the nation. We found only scant scholarly research supporting the claim
that Three Strikes caused the downturn in California's crime rates.
Those few reports that claim that Three Strikes is responsible for the
downturn in crime rates have serious methodological flaws. We
found even less theoretical support for the law among legal scholars.
Despite the absence of scholarly support for the law, its
proponents have successfully promulgated a legend about the law.
As noted by the authors of Punishment and Democracy: Three
Strikes and You're Out in California, many believe that Three
Strikes represents a “watershed” change in penal policy from soft to
hard on crime, leading to the downturn in crime. Proponents
continue to promote that legend despite compelling evidence to the
contrary. Ardent belief has prevailed over empirical analysis. Numerous judges and commentators have questioned the
wisdom of California's sentencing scheme. A state senator has
described California's enhancement provisions as “the most complex
and chaotic provisions in the Penal Code.”
One appellate court has criticized the state of the law even more
As a sentencing judge wends his way through the
labyrinthine procedures of section 1170 of the Penal Code
[the Determinate Sentencing Act], he must wonder, as he
utters some of its more esoteric incantations, if, perchance,
the Legislature had not exhumed some long departed
Byzantine scholar to create its seemingly endless and
convoluted complexities. Indeed, in some ways it resembles
the best offering of those who author bureaucratic
memoranda, income tax forms, insurance policies or
instructions for the assembly of packaged toys.

Comment by: octavia Posted: July 13, 2009, 8:12 pm

This law is very wrong and we should vote on it again. I promise it will never pass.

Comment by: Me Posted: July 20, 2009, 7:56 am


Another thing: The Three-Strike Law is sometimes also used to escape the death penalty-at least for a while: Someone who has already commited two murders and is facing the death penalty, will commit a third murder (e.g. a police officer, according to “FACTS,” 6 police officers were killed) to become eligible for the “Three-Strikes Law,” because then, he/she must spend at least 25 years in prison (= he/she cannot be executed during that time, because the 3rd strike triggers the Law automatically).
This means “Three-Strikes Law” provokes violence and murders. So it endangers people instead of protecting them.

As said in my first post, the death penalty should be abolished, and the Three-Strike Law should be limited to violent

Read more:

D uring a slumber party in October of 1993, 12-year-old Polly Hannah Klaas was abducted at knifepoint from her Petaluma, California homeAugust 5, 1996
Web posted at: 6:17 p.m. EDT

SAN JOSE, California (CNN) -- A jury recommended Monday that Richard Allen Davis receive the death penalty for the 1993 slaying of 12-year-old Polly Klaas.

Three Strikes Law

U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold the strike three law by a margin of 5 to 4.

DETERRENCE - Special Deterrence

(Specific or Individual Deterrence)

“The concept of deterrence poses obvious difficulties. It does not account for the many people who commit crimes under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or who suffer from psychological problems or mental illness.”

American Corrections pg 68

Who Pays for California's 3-Strikes Sentencing Rule?

Arizona and Nevada

There is no question that criminal activity dropped appreciably after California adopted a "three-strikes" mandatory sentencing rule in 1994. A report issued by the state a decade later found crime rates had fallen dramatically across the board

Similar rules which force judges to hand down longer prison terms once a criminal has committed three or more offenses have been adopted in over 20 states, but California's version is by far the most stringent.

Yet two unintended consequences of the three-strikes law call into question its ultimate effectiveness, says Harvard economist Radha Iyengar.

In a new study looking at criminal activity in California during the 1990's, Iyengar finds that criminals who already had two strikes against them were 10 percent more likely to maprisonske the third strike a violent one. That translates into 21,000 prisonsadditional violent crimes per year, Iyengar estimates

More surprisingly, but not illogically, criminals shifted future offenses to other, more lenient states. Iyengar estimates that 50,000 additional crimes were committed outside of California because of its three-strikes rule. Hardest hit by this extra criminal activity were Arizona and Nevada.

Three Strikes in a Nutshell

“The Good, Bad, and Ugly”


  1. It provides a fix for a flawed justice system so that repeat offenders stay in prison.

  2. The law provides a very effective deterrent after the 2nd conviction.

  3. The media distorts the true effectiveness of the law by showing trivial cases (like someone stealing pizza) rather than the usual perpetrators.

  4. The law applies to 3 convictions, not 3 crimes (i.e. criminals may get away with several incidents).


  1. The law destroys the flexibility of the courts and the judge.

  2. It is unjust in certain conditions (victimless crimes, young criminals, etc.).

  3. Criminals often plea bargain their first two convictions.

  4. It is a violation of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.

  5. An arrest of someone with two convictions almost guarantees the cost and time of a trial.

  6. The law adds more criminals to an already crowded and expensive prison system.

Leandro Andrade was caught shoplifting $153 worth of children's videos from two Kmart stores. A heroin addict with prior convictions for marijuana trafficking, prison escape, burglary, and petty theft, Mr. Andrade was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison. He won't be eligible for parole until he is 87. "It is unthinkable to me that people can be put in prison for shoplifting a small amount of merchandise," says Erwin Chemerinsky, who represented one of the two shoplifter cases before the court. "How do you tell a person he will spend the rest of his life in prison because he stole $153 worth of video tapes?"

Michael Rushford of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento says the court looked beyond just the most recent crime committed, which happened to be shoplifting. "The sentence isn't just for that crime," he says. "It's for your career of criminal activity and your past serious and violent crimes."

In 1994 California voters approved a ballot initiative known as "Three Strikes and You're Out." Basically what it means is that people who are convicted of three felonies may end up facing life in prison

According to the California Dept. of Justice and the California Dept. of Corrections, for the ten years prior to the enactment of the “3 strikes law”, homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, and vehicle theft totaled 8,825,353 crimes, but for the ten years after the enactment of the law, these crimes dropped to 6,780,964. However the decline in crime was a general trend throughout the U.S., even in those parts of the country without three strikes laws.

Changes to the STRIKE THREE RULE

Should only apply to violent crimes , e.g.

  1. Sexual Assault Offenses

  2. Child Sexual Offenses

  3. Murder / Aggravated Assault Offenses

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