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The Three Strikes Law, Should It be Enacted in All States?

Brian J Smith Jan. 27, 2013

More and more states are now enforcing the Three Strikes Law (a law requiring governments to give harsher sentences to individuals who have been convicted at least three times). This law generated buzz in California due to the number of people who found themselves in sticky situations as a result of the strict law. However, the law has quickly become controversial across the nation. Someone can simply be charged with drug possession 3 times for example and end up with a 25-year to life prison sentence. While the goal of this law is to keep people from becoming repeat criminals, it can actually unjustly place people behinds bars. As a result, felons who have committed small crimes sit next to killers and rapists for what may be the rest of their lives, with little resources for criminal defense.

States That Actively Practice the Three Strikes Law:

  • Texas

  • Washington

  • California

  • Colorado

  • Connecticut

  • Indiana

  • Kansas

  • North Dakota

  • Nevada

  • Louisiana

  • Arkansas

  • Georgia

  • Maryland

  • Montana

  • New Jersey

  • New Mexico

  • North Carolina

  • South Carolina

  • Pennsylvania

  • Utah

  • Vermont

  • Wisconsin

  • Virginia

  • Tennessee

  • Florida

  • Massachusetts

  • Arizona

Advantages of the Three Strikes Law

The Three Strikes Law aims to keep communities and neighborhoods safer. It keeps criminals behind bars so they cannot hurt people time and time again. The law’s goal is to also stop people from committing numerous crimes. If you are found guilty twice, you are much less likely to commit the crime a third time from the fear of being locked away for good.

Disadvantages of The Three Strikes Law

The biggest question and controversy associated with this law is how much money our country is spending on criminals. Of course, we want our tax money to put away child molesters and murderers, but the Three Strikes Law plays with fire in regards to the tax payers’ money. Criminals that would normally be behind bars for about 5 years are seeing 20 year sentences. In turn, we are paying for their room and board, and possibly the salaries of unneeded prison guards.

Just this past November, California held a strong debate about the severity of this law, which resulted in a revision of their sentencing process. Now, offenders cannot receive a life sentence unless they either committed a seriously violent unruly crime, or are a convicted child molester or murderer. At the end of 2012, California state found themselves with over 4,000 felons incarcerated due to over sentencing by the Three Strikes Law. California is already a state that has accumulated some of the highest debts in the country, and this was an expense in desperate need of relief.