Research Paper On Legal Reform: Habitual Offender Laws

1922 words - 8 pages

A habitual offender law can often be referred to as the "three strikes and you're out scheme." This means that an offender can be prosecuted after committing a crime more than three times. There are positives and negatives to this type of law practice, and there have been many articles that have researched it. It is an important aspect to discuss, because it is a controversial issue of today's criminal justice system. Does this type of law affect a criminal's behavior? Is the concept of a habitual offender fair and just? These are important questions that raise debate about habitual offenders. While discussing the theories of habitual law, the importance of it and its concepts will be revealed.What is a Habitual Offender?A habitual offender is a person who has committed criminal acts repeatedly and is assumed to be a threat to a society. Habitual laws are set up to protect the people of a community from criminals, and other harmful incidents. Habitual offender laws can also be referred to as the "Three Strikes and You're Out" scheme, in which criminals who commit more than three crimes will be considered a felon after the third criminal act. After the third act has been committed, the criminal has been evaluated as a danger to society, and is usually forced to serve an extended sentence in the penal system. A habitual offender's prison sentence would be longer than a first time offender. In most cases, all three strikes must be defined as felonies; in other cases, the felonies committed must be associated with a violent act (Mentor, 2004). The habitual offender laws have been around for decades, but were rarely used. In 1993, however, it was reinforced in Washington State, but only covered certain serious crimes (Zimring, Hawkins, & Kamin, 2001). Today it is used in select states, including Florida, Washington, and California; while other states have used similar concepts of this law.Views of the "Three Strikes" TheoryHabitual offender laws are both supported, and opposed. Positive and negative aspects apply to this type of law. Habitual offender laws can be seen as a positive regulation, because it encourages citizens not to commit crimes. In example, if a person was charged for a first offense (in example, speeding), the person would not commit another crime; realizing that there could be severe consequences, or that they may have a more serious offense awaiting. These laws can almost be looked at as a "scare tactic," because the criminals are scared out of committing crimes that they would have otherwise. Now knowing the penalties, the first offense criminals would be hesitant to commit other crimes because of the more serious consequences. On the other hand, habitual laws can be seen as a negative regulation, because one might ask, how can the severity of certain crimes be compared? If someone has committed burglary more than three times, they could possibly be subject to life imprisonment; while someone who committed murder or rape could...

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