Samples Process Examining the Three Strikes Policy

Examining the Three Strikes Policy

351 words 2 page(s)

In the last several decades, there has been significant debate about the effective methods for dealing with repeat felons. Habitual offenders are considered more dangerous and more likely to reoffend. In order to deter this pattern, many state governments have enacted “three strikes” laws. These laws require harsher penalties for individuals who commit repeat offenses. When an individual reaches his or her third felony, on average, the prison sentence time is mandated at harsh extremes. Proponents argue that these laws help to deter repeat offending. Opponents argue that they do not and they result in prison overcrowding.

On average, after the third felony conviction, the prison sentences can range from twenty-five years to life in prison. Many individuals believed that this would prevent a felon from committing the third or more felony; they believed that the harshness of a lengthy prison sentence would deter the behavior of criminals. However, some question the effectiveness of the laws. California is an example of a state that has struggled with this behavior. Due to the increase in repeat felonies, California enacted this law in 1994. The law required an individual to also serve 80% of the sentence before parole eligibility. In addition, the law allowed misdemeanors to be elevated to felony status in certain situations (Kelly & Datta, 2009, p. 29).

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Many argue that the laws have not worked. However, a study by Kelly & Datta (2009) indicated that they are an effective deterrent to crime. It has been noted that as prison populations increase, criminal behavior in communities decrease. The authors have noted that there are difficulties within the laws. For instance, some individuals end up serving extremely lengthy sentences for minor offenses. They believe the law should be adjusted to make more sense in these situations.

However, the three strike laws have worked to reduce crime in communities. It may be that the law does not reduce criminal behavior; rather, the law works to ensure that those who will commit crimes are in jail. Reducing the desire to commit criminal behavior is different than imprisoning the criminals. However, in the end, crime rates have been reduced (Kelly & Datta, 2009, p. 35).