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NCJ Number: 166932 Find in a Library
Title: "Three-Strikes and You're Out": A Good Political Slogan to Reduce Crime, but a Failure in its Application
Journal: New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement  Volume:22  Issue:1  Dated:(Winter 1996)  Pages:175-205
Author(s): I M Shinbein
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 31
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The problem with the "three-time" State provisions enacted in California and Washington are that they cast broad nets; when the measures are enforced, not only do they target the violent criminals, but also those nonviolent criminals not intended to fall under the "three-strikes" statutes.
Abstract: California and Washington are among those States that include some property and drug offenses in their "three-strikes" laws. There are not enough resources available in either California or Washington to incarcerate for decades those relatively petty offenders who have never engaged in serious violence toward others. The cost of incarcerating these nonviolent offenders is so great that taxpayers would end up paying double their taxes or losing their State universities and colleges to fund the project. The primary reason behind the "three-strikes" slogan is the protection of society from violent and dangerous offenders. To achieve this purpose, legislatures must draft a law that targets only truly violent criminals. Property offenders are best left to the discretion of judges. Distinguishing between crimes against property and violent crimes against people separates the good "three-strikes" laws from the bad. Unless States that are considering a "three-strikes" provision note the shortcomings of the California and Washington laws, they too will begin filling prisons with nonviolent criminals. 241 footnotes
Main Term(s): State courts
Index Term(s): California; Habitual offenders; Prison overcrowding; Selective incapacitation; Sentencing factors; State laws; Washington
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