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NCJ Number: 168462 Find in a Library
Title: Three Strikes as a Public Policy: The Convergence of the New Penology and the McDonaldization of Punishment
Journal: Crime and Delinquency  Volume:43  Issue:4  Dated:(October 1997)  Pages:470-492
Author(s): D Shichor
Date Published: 1997
Page Count: 23
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article analyzes the theoretical principles of the recent "three strikes and you're out" laws.
Abstract: "Three strikes" laws stem from a concern about managing aggregates of "dangerous" people. They are not concerned with rendering justice, protecting the community, or rehabilitating individual offenders. The emphasis is on rational criminal justice operations that apply management methods based on statistical estimates of patterns of crimes and future inmate populations, risk indicators of future criminal behavior, operations research, and system analysis. "Three strikes" laws also are in line with the modern sociocultural ethos of "McDonaldization" (Ritzer 1993), a model built on the principles of rationality that embodies an attitude that "it is possible to calculate and purposively manipulate the environment" (Chirot 1994); however, the quest for extreme rationality can lead to irrationalities in the practical workings of this mode. Often, the application of "three strikes" laws results in inefficiency in the criminal justice process; punishments are not always clearly calculable; predictability of outcomes may be negatively affected by rational procedures; and the system may lose control over the nature of punishment. Probably the greatest irrationality of this penal policy is the tremendous economic costs. These laws may even take monies away from essential social programs such as higher education, welfare, environmental protection, or cultural programs. Some advocates of these measures, especially politicians such as California's attorney general, attribute the major part of the decline in the crime rates in 1994 to "three-strikes" laws. The general results of theses laws remain to be analyzed. Future studies should evaluate a wide range of policy-related issues in addition to the crime rates. 9 notes and 74 references
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): California; Mandatory Sentencing; Punishment; Recidivists; State laws
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