The California Three-Stike Law

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Officially known as Habitual offender laws; “Three Strikes” laws have become common place in 29 states(Chern) within the United States and the Federal Court system; these laws have been designed to counter criminal recidivism by incapacitation through the prison system. The idea behind the laws were to maximize the criminal justice systems deterrent and selective incapacitation effect, under this deterrence theory individuals would be dissuaded from committing criminal activity by the threat of state imposed incarceration. Californians voted in the “three strikes” law (proposition 184) on March 7 1994 by a 72% vote with the intention of reducing crime by targeting serious repeat offenders with long term incarceration thereby eliminating the ability to commit another offense. Some unusual scenarios have come about due to these laws, particularly in California; some defendants have been given sentences of 25 years to life for such petty crimes as shoplifting golf clubs or stealing a slice of pizza from a child on the beach or a double sentence of 50 years to life for stealing nine video tapes from two different stores while child molesters, rapists and murderers serve only a few years. As a result of some of these scenarios the three strikes sentences have prompted harsh criticism not only within the United States but from outside the country as well (Campbell). Many questions have now arisen concerning the “three strikes” laws such as alternatives to incarceration for non-heinous crimes, what would happen if the state got rid of “strikes” and guaranteed that those convicted of a serious crime serve their full sentence? It is imperative to compare the benefits and the costs and the alternatives to incarceration when de... ... middle of paper ... ... Reynolds, Mike. 15 years before "Three Strikes" to 15 years after "Three Strikes"!. N.p., 2009. Web. 7 May 2015. . Schiraldi, Vincent. "Three strikes and you're out: an examination of the impact of strikes laws 10 years after their enactment." Justice Policy Institute. Justice Policy Institute, march 2004. Web. 12 May 2015. . Shepherd, Joanna. "Fear of the first strike: the full deterrent effect of California." Journal of Legal Studies 31.1 (2002): 159-201. Web. 12 May 2015. . "The three strikes and you’re out law." analysis of the 1995-1996 budget bill. legislative Analyst's Office, 22 feb 1995. Web. 13 May 2015. .

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