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: 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
Note: *This document is currently unavailable from NCJRS.
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.