skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 157053 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Three Strikes and You're Out: Estimated Benefits and Costs of California's New Mandatory-Sentencing Law
Author(s): P W Greenwood; C P Rydell; A F Abrahamse; J P Caulkins; J Chiesa; K E Model; S P Klein
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 83
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Rand Corporation
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
Publication Number: ISBN 0-8330-1597-4
Sale Source: Rand Corporation
1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States of America

National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This report analyzes costs and benefits of California's new Three Strikes law that mandates lengthier sentences for repeat offenders; estimated costs consist of dollars spent by the criminal justice system and benefits are expressed in terms of crime reduction.
Abstract: Public outrage over crime has found political expression in the proposal and enactment of various laws mandating lengthy sentences for repeat felons. Put forward under the slogan, "three strikes and you're out," these laws generally prescribe that felons found guilty of a third serious crime be locked up for 25 years to life. California's Three Strikes law went into effect in March 1994 and is rather comprehensive. Although the first two strikes accrue for serious felonies, the crime that triggers the life sentence can be any felony. Further, California's law doubles sentences for a second strike, requires that extended sentences be served in prison, and limits good time earned during prison to 20 percent of the sentence imposed. A cost-benefit analysis projects that the law will reduce serious felonies committed by adults in California by 22 to 34 percent. About a third of felonies eliminated will be violent crimes such as murder, rape, and assaults causing great bodily injury. This reduction in crime will be achieved at a cost of $4.5 to $6.5 billion more per year. Criticisms of California's Three Strikes law and possible alternatives are noted. The authors point out that cost-effectiveness is not always the most important criterion in crime control. Supplemental information on the economic analysis of the Three Strikes law is contained in appendixes. 17 references, 23 tables, and 19 figures
Main Term(s): Courts
Index Term(s): California; Corrections costs; Corrections effectiveness; Cost effectiveness analysis; Cost/Benefit Analysis; Economic analysis of crime; Felony; Habitual offenders; Mandatory Sentencing; State laws; Violent crimes
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.