Three Strikes Is Good Criminal Justice Policy

By Sandoval, Joseph | Corrections Today, July 1996 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Three Strikes Is Good Criminal Justice Policy


Sandoval, Joseph, Corrections Today


In California, violent crime has been decreasing faster than the national average. In fact, all crime in this state has been decreasing at a record pace over the past three years. When asked to explain why, most law enforcement officials, from the attorney general down to the cop on the beat, cite the state's tough "three strikes" law that was signed by Gov. Pete Wilson in March 1994.

This law, which imposes a 25-years-to-life sentence on anyone convicted of a third felony (violent or nonviolent), is working in California.

As of April 30, 1996, more than 1,600 three-time felons with serious or violent criminal histories, and nearly 16,700 two-time felons with similar backgrounds, have been taken off the streets because of this law.

A recent Sacramento Bee study of the two-year-old law found that 84 percent of the third strike inmates had been convicted at least once for a violent offense and an average of five felonies overall.

News reports and interviews with parolees indicate that criminals in California are getting the message. They are scared of committing a third strike, leading many of them to go straight or leave the state when they are paroled. It's hard to argue with this kind of success. But there are those who do.

Since the three strikes law went into effect, inmate rights advocates and defense attorneys have been warning us of explosive prison costs and overloaded courts, and predicting little benefits from this tough-on-crime law. They are wrong.

The National Institute of Justice recently released a report that estimated the national cost of crime at $450 billion a year. That's nearly $1,500 a year for every man, woman and child in this country. If California counts for even 10 percent of this figure with its 32 million residents, that means our state is losing $45 billion a year to crime.

Several studies conducted by such respected groups as the Rand Corporation, National Institute of Justice, Brookings Review, Council on Crime in America, Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy (PRI), and Governor's Office of Planning and Research have said that incarcerating career criminals is a sound investment for state government.

For example, PRI's report said, "Californians can look forward to a savings of $10 billion to $14 billion (a year), simply from incapacitating criminals" under the three strikes law.

Yes, prisons in the long term will cost more money to build and maintain.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Three Strikes Is Good Criminal Justice Policy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?