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Please Describe The Current Three (3) Strikes Law In California. Also, Give Any Solutions You Feel Would Correct The Problems That Are Now Occuring. Please Attach A Bibliography.

2133 words - 9 pages

Three Strikes Yet No BallsWhen you think of life-sentences for criminals, what type of offense comes to mind? Crimes that would do the greatest harm to society or ones that would warrant a life sentence, like murder, rape, arson, or other serious or violent offenses? This is what California legislators had in mind when they created California's Three Strikes, You're Out, Law. Instituted in 1994, the law was established to rid our streets of multiple offenders. Instead, it has led to more problems and chaos than expected. Before examining the details, one must understand the background of the law.Public outrage over crime and the kidnapping of young Polly Klaas found political expression with the proposal of various laws mandating lengthy sentences for repeat felons. Put forward under the slogan, "Three Strikes and You're Out," the law ordains that felons found guilty of a third felony be locked up for 25 years to life (Godina). Although the first two "strikes" must be serious felonies, the crime that triggers the life sentence can be any felony. This may include attempted burglary, grand theft, and even possession of a controlled substance. Furthermore, the law doubles sentences for a second strike and requires that these extended sentences be served in prison rather than in jail or on probation. The law limits "good time" earned during prison to 20 percent of the sentence given rather than the 50 percent given under the previous law (Cordell). This means a convict would not be up for parole until at least 80 percent of his term is completed. This law should be reexamined, especially regarding non-violent criminals.With 57 percent of third strikes being nonviolent offenses, (typically drug violations or burglary), the law hasn't targeted the most dangerous criminals (Clark). If the whole point of the law was to sweep career criminals off the street by mandating sentences of 25 years to life, why are drug abusers and petty criminals going to jail for a disproportional amount of time? The punishment should fit the crime, and this law does not take that into account. The instances of injustice are overwhelming.Take a look at the case of Gary Albert Ewing- a small time criminal with multiple burglary and theft convictions. Ewing was on parole in 1994 when he walked into a pro-shop in Los Angeles, stuffed three golf clubs down his pants leg, and limped out of the store. An employee called police, who arrested Ewing in the parking lot. He was charged with felony grand theft of property worth more than $400; this charge has become known as a "wobbler" in California because it can be classified as either a felony or misdemeanor (EWING v. CALIFORNIA). Despite Ewing's pleas, the judge treated the charge as a felony and because of Ewing's previous convictions, (under the newly enacted Three Strikes Law) sentenced Ewing to 25 years to life. Ewing appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that the law violated the United States...

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