Disagree: Three Strikes Law

Disagree with the three strikes law?  This law allows defendants to be sentenced to 25 years to life on their third felony if they have committed any 2 felonies in the past, even if they were a juvenile at the time.  Many of the defendants who are sent to jail due to the three strikes laws are nonviolent repeat offenders, which was not the purpose behind the creation of this law.  The three strikes law is unjustly harsh and takes power away from judges to treat people as individuals.  Three strike laws also encourage criminals to be more violent.  Also, this law is causing our prisons to become overcrowded and is increasing the cost to taxpayers.  The three strikes law causes many more problems than the benefits that it creates in our society.

There are numerous situations where the three strikes law punishments for crimes are clearly too harsh.  For instance, Ronnie Villa , a grandfather of 4, is serving 25 years to life for stealing 5 bottles of Head and Shoulders shampoo even though his previous felonies were committed 12 years earlier.  Robert Loomis’ third strike was from stealing a $37 calculator; his prior strikes were residential burglaries between 1986 and 1989.  On November 2, 2004, the voters of California rejected Proposition 66, which would have amended the state’s three strikes law to require that the third felony be violent or serious.  This law should be amended, so that nonviolent or non-serious crimes are excluded because many individuals had been given obnoxiously large prison sentences for petty crimes.

Additionally, the three strikes law should be removed or amended because of the negative impacts it has regarding our judicial system, taxpayers, etc.  The punishment should fit the crime according to the 8th amendment to the Bill of Rights, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed,  nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”  This concept is known as proportionality; it means that criminals should not be incarcerated for life because of relatively minor offenses, no matter how many they commit.  Also, judges lose the power to treat criminals as individuals considering the circumstances when imposing a prison sentence.  The harsh prison sentences that are given to many non-deserving crimes is causing prisons to become overcrowded, and this as a result increases the taxes for taxpayers.  Furthermore, three strike laws may actually encourage criminals to be more violent.  A criminal who knows that a 25 year to life sentence is expected will be much more likely to resist arrest, kill a potential witness, or try to escape as this person has nothing to lose.  The three strike laws need to be changed because of the dilemmas that they enable.

If three strike laws are not amended or removed, then more problems are due to arise.  These laws force unjust sentences for crimes that do not deserve such a punishment, and this directly contradicts our Bill of Rights.  A judge’s power to treat defendants as individuals is abolished.  The additional criminals that are imprisoned is adding to the problem of prison overcrowding and increasing the taxes.  Also, this law encourages criminals to be more violent and commit more heinous crimes.  The current three strike laws simply create more problems than they solve; these three strike laws have a negative impact on our society as a whole.

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February 26th, 2009 11:57 pm

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