March 6, 2003 in Politics

Three Strikes

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So if you’ve been to prison twice for petty theft and you go a third time for a similar crime, under California’s 3 strikes law, you automatically get a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. By a 5-4 vote, the United States Supreme Court ruled yesterday that this is not considered cruel and unusual punishment. This may not be cruel and unusual punishment, but it’s not sound public or fiscal policy. Under this law, if you lock up someone for 25 years at a cost of say $25K a year, cost to the taxpayers will be at a minimum, $625K. Now multiply this a few hundred times. Surely the California legislators didn’t have this in mind when they passed the three strikes legislation. For the record, I’m not soft on crime. People who commit violent crime should be severely punished. Heck, if someone commits a crime that is extremely violent and there is undisputed DNA evidence, I may even go along with the death penalty. But under the three strikes law, there should be some leeway for Judges to sentence someone who has committed a 3rd minor non-violent crime to a lesser penalty. Something should be done to these types of repeat offenders; but locking them away for 25+ years at such a high cost to taxpayers is not the answer. Aren’t we suppose to try and reform these people? Or are they suppose to just rot in prison?

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