The Efficiency Of The Three Strikes Legislation Criminology Essay

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The Three Strikes Legislation is a controversial crime control policy, which is based mostly on ethics then anything else. It is a law that is meant to keep society safe from repeated offenders.

"Throughout the mid-1990s, many states adopted three-strikes legislation in response to the murder of Polly Klass in California by Richard Allen Davis, a repeat offender who was released on parole three months earlier. The state of Washington was the first to pass a three-strikes law." (APA, p.195, Chapter 9).

Three strikes legislation was actually thought up because of a murder case of a repeated offender. The thought of incarcerating repeated and persistent offenders is what the three strikes legislation is trying to do to prevent future threats to society. With many cases regarding the efficiency of this law, only by analyzing this legislation would you find out if it is beneficial for the criminal justice system or not.

Supporters and Critics

Three strikes legislation became a booming thought and spread throughout many states during the 90's. As it became popularized in the United States the law received gradual support and critics as well. Despite the differences in their beliefs, supporters and critics of this law use opinion based facts to back up their claims for or against this law. The support behind the three strikes legislation leans more towards common sense, because by threatening criminals with three strikes would make them realize and feel more pressured to not commit crimes in a repeated fashion. Much support for this law came because of the decline in crime during the 90's. The critics seem to have a different approach when it comes to three strikes. Their point of view leans towards ethics rather then common sense. One example of why critics view the legislation in an ethical fashion is because they believe that repeated offenders and criminals tend to mature out of their criminal lifestyle.

"Third strikers cannot commit more crime because they are in prison. But, according to some critics, a specific deterrent effect is insufficient to justify such a costly crime control policy." (APA, p. 195, chapter 9).

Proves to show that critics view the decline in crime as not enough criminals because of the majority being imprisoned during this period who are repeated offenders. Also the cost of this crime control policy is also viewed as costly and inhumane for critics.

"Three strikes your out"

The whole idea behind this legislation was based off of baseball. When a pitcher throws the ball to the batter, the batter has three tries to hit the ball before he's out. The same goes for the criminal, the criminal has three chances before he is out, and in this case to jail. The effectiveness of this legislation if analyzed correctly is very great. The criminal mind acts on many purposes for criminal actions, but when such a law is in place it puts even more pressure and provides a threat against these offenders. Like the batter who is on his 2nd strike and about to bat a third swing, he will feel a great pressure over his shoulders when he has to hit that third ball. As the ball comes flying towards the batter he will realize that this is it, it's the last chance he has to find out if he's out or not. A criminal on his second strike realizing he only has one strike left would realize that his mistakes are leading him no where and he is ending up in worse condition then before. This pressure is what would make these criminals crack and stop these horrendous acts of criminal activities and mature out of these lifestyles.

Leandro Andrade

Lockyer V. Andrade was one of the best examples of the Three Strikes Legislation put to the test with this controversial case.

"On November, 1995, Leandro Andrade was caught shoplifting five children's videotapes, worth a total of $84.70, from a K-Mart store in Ontario, California. Two weeks later, he stole four videotapes from a different K-Mart store in Montclair, California. Andrade had been in and out of the state and federal prison systems since 1982. As a result of these prior convictions, the prosecution charged Andrade with two felonies instead of misdemeanors. Under California's three strikes law, any felony can serve as the third strike and thereby expose the defendant to a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison." (Chemerinsky E., 2003)

This case can be viewed as a negative input towards three strikes legislation. Andrade's misdemeanors and petty thefts have caused him 25 to near life imprisonment due to the Three strikes law. This is where the ethics kick in, Andrade although committing only petty crimes has seemed to numb down his criminal activities into less serious offenses. This can prove that Andrade was in a sense achieving somewhat of a maturity from his normal criminal activities and perhaps with a less punishment can obtain a maturity out of his criminal lifestyle. The Tree Strikes Legislation can be viewed as harsh in this sense, but the law is the law as many proclaim it and should be respected to keep society as a whole safe.

California's Controversy

Although the Three Strikes Law differs in many states California is the most controversial of them all. For example in the state of Washington, after the third conviction you will receive life imprisonment, but only on felony charges. In Georgia its' after the second strike if the crime is a violent felony. In California if you have prior convictions even if they weren't serious such as petty thefts, but commit a lesser crime will be convicted as a felony and will fall under the "Three Strikes Law" and hence will be sent to prison for 25 years to life. This just shows that critics in reality aren't criticizing the main parts of the Three Strikes Legislation, but rather looking for ways to modify it to make it more fair and equal in that sense.

Federal Government's Action

The Federal Government provided a key ingredient of enhancing the Three Strikes Legislation and showing much support to "get tough" on crime.

"The federal government played a major role in the Truth-in-Sentencing movement. The Violent Crime Control and Law enforcement Act of 1994, as amended, included Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-in Sentencing incentive grants ("VOITIS grants"), which provide funds to state and local correctional systems to expand their capacity to incarcerate violent offenders and to impose longer and more determinate sentences."(Turner, Greenwood, Chen, Fain, 1999)

By the Federal Government providing these funds not only will it benefit going tough on crime by lengthening determinate sentences and imposing harsher punishments toward lesser crime, but will give an increase to the pressure that criminals face when doing criminal activities. This pressure which was discussed earlier as a way to make these criminals crack, will keep on increasing to the point where crime will start decreasing because justice will prevail. Criminals will start to feel outnumbered and pressured by the law itself, society will be a much safer place to live, Police officers will face less life threatening cases, and this is all due to the support given onto the Three Strikes Legislation.

Deterrence or Not

One of the points critics point out when opposing Three Strikes Legislation is whether it provides a deter effect or not. Is Three Strikes Legislation really intimidating criminals into not committing crimes after their second strike or is it just a waste of huge money for this expensive crime control policy.

"Yet some researchers believe that it is possible for three-strikes law to deter would-be third-time felons." (APA, p.196 chapter 9)

So there seems to be some level of deterrence when it comes to a criminal thinking whether he should commit his third felony or not. Locking away serious criminals probably has no effect in a reduction in crime, but the Brightside is that by getting rid of the worst criminals shows that society can achieve more peace and justice then before and less criminal inspiration to young criminals out there.

Three Strikes Danger

One of the problems with the Three Strikes Legislation is that there is a danger to all this when it comes to oversimplifying the criminal justice system.

"A study published in 2008 examined one unintended effect of the three strikes legislation in California. Radha Iyengar, the study's author, found that criminals with two strikes - that is, those eligible for a three strike life imprisonment sentence if convicted of another felony - were 20% more likely to commit violent crimes than those with no prior strikes. Two example are Don't commit any more felonies, and stay out of jail, OR Commit any felony and get a life sentence. Study showed criminals with two strikes were 28% less likely to commit a third felony." (Iyengar, 2001)

Basically this is showing that although criminals with two strikes were less likely to commit a third felony, the ones that do commit that third felony commit it very violent and big knowing that they will just get the three strikes penalty for just 25 years to life imprisonment. This is why this law can be risky and can have negative side effects when it comes to the criminal justice system, but considering the percentage for criminals who are less likely to commit a third felony is higher then the ones who are more likely to commit violent crimes might make it worth it.

The Strike Laws Variety

Much research has been made whether the three strikes legislation is an effective crime control policy and one of those is the study of states with three strikes laws and others with no three strike laws for a comparison.

"In some three-strikes studies, researchers have simply compared crime rates in states with and without three-strikes laws, with no attention to how often they are enforced. But as another researcher has argued, simply comparing both types of states does not provide sufficient information on how often, if at all, states apply their three strike laws."(APA, p.198, chapter 9)

The problem with these comparisons is that states which don't have three strike laws aren't able to show if the reduction in crime is due to the three strikes or because of different population sizes or other particular reasons. Many critics try to bash the three strikes legislation by stating that it has no effect on the reduction of crime and can cause much worse criminal activity in society. The problem with this thought is that critics need to realize that criminals too feel pressured under this law by rethinking when it comes to committing their third felony. Although there is a chance for these criminals to commit a much worse horrendous act I think that has much more to do with the criminal mind than worrying about what punishment they will receive. If someone commits two felonies, and decides to murder another person for their third criminal offense, just shows this person deserves to be in prison because of the repeated offenses. Committing a felony over and over again proves to show this person has a malicious nature and is out to do harm and does not deserve to be let free in society.

"Marvell and Moody's research found that three-strikes laws appear to increase the incidence of homicide" (APA, p.198, chapter 9)

This is a critical view from a research showing that homicide rates increased from 13 to 14 percent to 16 and 24. This is viewed as the potential danger of the three-strikes laws.

Alternatively there is research for positive side effects of the three-strikes law.

"Stepherd's recent analysis of three-strikes legislation in California improved on previous three-strikes research. She found that three-strikes law has resulted in crime reductions throughout the state of California. Her findings were recently confirmed in another California-based study." (APA, p.198, chapter 9)

This is the support that the crime control policy receives, it's the idea that the policy is out there to reduce crime not increase it.

Three Strikes Benefit

"To many crime victims, the U.S. Judicial system has become somewhat of a joke. Evidentiary exception rules, case backlogs, liberal sentences, plea, bargaining, and a protect-the-criminal-rather-than-the-victim mentality has far too often let criminals slip through the cracks. Most of the crime nowadays, is committed by repeat offenders. The three strikes law is a way to ensure justice is done even if the system otherwise fails miserably."(Messerli, 2006)

Basically criminals in the United States view the court system as a joke and too lenient so criminals would abuse the law in that sense. The Three Strikes Law will get tough on crime, cause criminals to commit less felonies to avoid life imprisonment, and by getting funded by the Federal Government will it adhere to its goals. When one has tougher consequences, one will think twice before committing an action for that consequence. The Three Strikes Legislation crime control policy is not perfect, but it's another step into improving our criminal justice system for a better future.

Reference Page

Worral, J.L. (2008). Crime control in america: what works?. United States: Allyn & Bacon; 2nd edition

Worral, J.L. (2008). Crime control in america: what works?. United States: Allyn & Bacon; 2nd edition

.Chemrinsky, E. (2003). Cruel and unusual: the story of leandro andrade. Massachusetts: J.D., Harvard University.

Greenwood, Turner S. (1999). The impact of truth-in-sentencing and three strikes legislation: prison populations, state budgets, and crime rates,. United States:

Worral, J.L. (2008). Crime control in america: what works?. United States: Allyn & Bacon; 2nd edition .

Total criminal defense. (2009). United States:

Worral, J.L. (2008). Crime control in america: what works?. United States: Allyn & Bacon; 2nd edition

Worral, J.L. (2008). Crime control in america: what works?. United States: Allyn & Bacon; 2nd edition

Worral, J.L. (2008). Crime control in america: what works?. United States: Allyn & Bacon; 2nd edition

.Messerli, J. (2006). Is the three-strikes law, which provides mandatory 25-to-life setences for a third felony conviction, a good idea?. United States: