Three Strikes laws are statutes enacted by our state and federal governments which require courts to impose harsher sentences on habitual offenders who are convicted of three or more serious crimes. However, there have been many different interpretations as to what is considered a serious crime. As a result, defendants with previous convictions have been given sentences of 25 years to life for such crimes as shoplifting golf clubs or stealing a slice of pizza from a child. At least 26 states now have some form of these habitual offender laws on their books. The first Three Strikes law was passed in 1993 by voters in Washington State. The following year California and the federal government passed Three Strikes laws in which a third felony conviction carried a sentence of life in prison without parole for 25 years. Advocates say that after the hype leading to the passage of these laws died down, it was soon apparent they were not bringing the results the public expected. Data shows Three Strikes laws didnâ€™t necessarily reduce violent crime but instead put away more â€œcriminalsâ€ for nonviolent and petty crimes. This dramatically increased our prison population. These studies show that higher incarceration rates do not necessarily lead to less crime. Researchers have found that all 19 states which reduced the number of people in prison over the past decade have also seen their crime rates decline. A 2010 report by Californiaâ€™s State Auditor concluded that â€œthose now in prison under Californiaâ€™s Three Strikes law will cost the state $19.2 billion and that 53% of these inmates are serving a sentence for non-serious and nonviolent crimes.â€ Some states have ruled that Three Strikes laws are unconstitutional on the grounds they violate our 6th Amendment guarantee of trial by jury.
Pending Legislation: None
I oppose reforming current Three Strikes policy
I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill prohibiting Three Strike laws