Three-Strikes Laws Punish and Protect

By Meese, Edwin | Insight on the News, May 16, 1994 | Go to article overview

Three-Strikes Laws Punish and Protect


Meese, Edwin, Insight on the News


On Oct. 1, 1993, Polly Klaas was kidnapped at knife point from her Petaluma, Calif., home, where she had been enjoying a sleep-over with two teenage girlfriends. Subsequently she was found dead on a road about 45 miles from her house -- strangled. The man identified in court documents as the killer had been convicted repeatedly of the most serious and dangerous crimes, including kidnapping, robbery, burglary and assault. Yet he was released from prison a few months before Polly's murder, serving only half of the 16-year sentence for his most recent felony.

More than a year earlier, Kimber Reynolds, an 18-year-old girl living in Fresno, Calif., was shot to death by a career criminal on parole, who killed her because she resisted his effort to steal her purse.

The nation was stunned in July 1993 by the fatal shooting of James Jordan, known as "Pops" to his basketball-star son, Michael Jordan. The elder Jordan's death occurred at a rest stop on Interstate 95 in North Carolina, at the hands of two men with long criminal histories of violent crimes.

These incidents that spanned the country, and hundreds of others taking place in the states in between, have triggered a massive reaction among law-abiding citizens. People are expressing their urgent fears about violent crime and demanding that new measures be taken to change the criminal justice system -- particularly to protect against violent, repeat offenders who are being released into the community often after serving only a fraction of their sentences for previous crimes.

One of the measures most frequently proposed -- perhaps because of its catchy title -- is "three strikes and you're out," requiring that criminals involved in three serious, violent felonies be sentenced to prison for guaranteed terms up to life imprisonment. The details of these proposals vary, but the essential concept is the same: Violent career criminals who have demonstrated their proclivity for repeated offenses should remain in prison for life or at least until the public can be absolutely assured that they no longer are a danger to society.

Despite extensive public approval -- nearly 77 percent of Washington state voters launched a national movement for three-strikes laws by approving such a ballot initiative in October -- a vigorous debate has been kindled among politicians, academics and criminal justice experts over the efficiency of such legislation. Dire warnings of overwhelming costs, potential "geriatric prisons" and misuse of limited resources are among the challenges posed by three-strikes opponents.

After a careful review of the arguments on both sides, I believe that laws providing guaranteed lengthy prison terms for violent career criminals, if properly written and applied, would materially increase public safety and improve our citizens' confidence in the criminal justice system.

First, however, let me suggest a few conditions that should govern such measures:

* A "three strikes and you're out" statute is not a panacea and will not solve all the problems that face our law enforcement and criminal justice institutions. This type of measure does not substitute for expanded and better-utilized police resources, reform of the juvenile justice system, better management of prisons, revision of criminal evidence laws or common-sense attention to the root causes of crime.

* Those drafting three strikes legislation should remember the purpose of the concept: to keep repeat violent criminals out of circulation until they no longer are a danger to society. Therefore, it should apply to three violent offenses only (with the inclusion of home burglaries at night, since the crimes have such a high potential of violence), and not to just any three felonies.

* Since many violent criminals "burn out" in middle or advanced age, the term for three-time violent offenders should be near 25 years to life, with provisions for release of those who have served 25 or more years if correctional officials certify they no longer are dangerous. …

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

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.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Three-Strikes Laws Punish and Protect
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.