The Washington State Three-Strikes Law
It is difficult to determine whether the three-strikes law in Washington is an effective form of legislation. In 1993, Washington was the first state in the nation to adopt three-strikes legislation which imposed a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for persons convicted for a third specific violent felony. The action was fueled by the highly publicized death of Diane Ballasiotes, who was raped and murdered by a convicted rapist who had been released from prison. Voters, who were overcome with emotion over the atrocious acts committed by a released felon, passed the bill by a three to one margin. California followed suit, passing similar legislation in 1994. By 1999, 26 states in the nation had approved comparable laws. Although similar there are variations in the specifics, such as which offenses qualify as a strike and the number of strikes needed to be "out". In twenty states three strikes are required. In one state, a mandatory life is imposed after the second strike. The driving force behind "three-strikes" legislation in Washington, were politicians wanting to "get tough on crime". The reasoning behind the law was to reduce recidivism and get violent offenders off the street. I think that the legislation was merely a response to public outcry rather than a well thought out strategy to actually reduce crime. Advocates say that after "three-strikes" laws were adopted across the country there was a drastic reduction in crime in general. They also argue that once a person has committed a his second "strike" and knows that he faces a life sentence if convicted again will think twice before committing another crime. These arguments are fallacies. Finally what supporters fail to point out is that these three-strike laws target minorities over whites in a severely disproportionate amount. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, between it's implementation in 1993 and 1998, violent crime in...
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