California's Proposition 184: Three Strikes and You'Re Out
Last year in California voters approved a controversial ballot initiative. Proposition 184, also known as the three strikes and you 're out law, was passed on November 9, 1994. Under this new legislation repeat offenders, upon committing their third felony offense, will be sentenced to a mandatory twenty-five years to life in prison(California 667). The initiative passed by a landslide, with 76% of the voters in favor of it. The State Senate soon after voted the bill into law, with only seven members voting against it.
The three strikes initiative stemmed from the killing of Polly Klass by Richard
Allen Davis, a convicted felon. The killing outraged the entire state but what enraged people even more was that Davis had been in and out of prison his whole life and was still free to kill again. Soon people began calling for laws that would put repeat violent offenders behind bars for life. The premise of the new laws became an easy issue for politicians to back. To oppose such legislation seemed to be political suicide, so most politicians backed the initiative. Although many civil liberties groups opposed such mandatory sentencing measures there was little they could in the face of tremendous voter approval. Many voters did not realize that this bill could put potentially incarcerate people for ludicrous amounts after the commission of a minor offense. Even more voters did not realize the cost of implementing such a bill. Now that this new legislation has been in effect for a year and the tremendous negative effects it have become obvious we must repeal it. One of the issues that must be considered when imposing mandatory sentencing is the increased cost of incarceration. In the state of California it costs $20,000 per year to incarcerate an inmate under normal circumstances(Cost 1). This amount of money could put one person through a state college for two or three years. According to
Cited: The Cost of Mandatory Minimums. Pamphlet. Families Against Mandatory Minimums, 1996. 13 Nov. 1996.