Crime Situation in California

Pages: 6 (2222 words) Published: November 1, 2014

My essay on the Three Strikes Rule will explore this law from its inception to the present time, its impact on the California state government, and propose a solution to this problematic law. The Three Strikes Rule states that any offenders that committed any violent or serious felony offense (after two or more of the same conviction) are sentenced 25 years to life. I will present how crime has either increased or decreased since the 1990’s. What the perceptions of crime have been in our society. What polices has California put into place from the 1990’s to address crime. The costs and consequences of these policies and whether or not the Three Strike Rule has been worth it.

What has California done in proposition of crime? The Three Strike rule is a reserved power of the states, no decision made is federal, thus there are many heated debates over whether it should have been implemented or not. The California three strike sentencing law was originally enacted in 1994. The law states that any offenders that committed any violent or serious felony offense (after two or more of the same conviction) are sentenced 25 years to life. Researchers believe that crime rate dropped in the 1990’s due to the harsh punishment of this policy. In the article, The Hidden Impact of Three Strikes, author Julia Reynolds states that “crime rates have been going down, down, down. I attribute it to harsher sentencing” (Reynolds, 2009). Studies show that the indirect deterrent and incapacitation of potential crimes attributed to the crime reduction in the 1990s. What has been the perception of crime in the general public through the media and in reality? Does the Three Strikes Rule really effectively stop crime, and does it perform that task cost-effectively as well.

It's not difficult to gauge what the popular notions of crime in the United States are. Engage in any polite conversation over dinner or cocktails and one is likely to hear similar themes: "crime is out of control, it's just not the same world we grew up in, it's not safe to walk down the street anymore, it's a mean world out there," etc. The underlying theme that can be drawn from these notions is fear. There is a widespread conception that crime is a rampant problem in this country and that violent crime and others are on the rise. However, these beliefs are not supported at all by the facts, even those put forth by our own law enforcement agencies. The impact of popular media on these perceptions, because the media, it would seem, is one of the most influential contributors to the social construction of crime in this country. The coverage of crime, and particularly violent crime, in the news media has increased in frequency of coverage and sensationalized reporting despite statistical proof that violent crime has been decreasing for many years. As of 2001 homicides made up one to two-tenths of one percent of all arrests, yet made up 27-29% of crime coverage on the nightly news (Dorfman & Schiraldi, 2001). Still one of the most shocking statistics from Dorfman and Schiraldi's study states that, "Crime coverage has increased while real crime rates have fallen. While homicide coverage was increasing on the network news by 473% from 1990 to 1998, homicide arrests dropped 32.9% from 1990 to 1998”. The National Criminal Victimization Survey, which is conducted differently than the more common Uniform Crime Reports, shows a decrease in violent as well as property crimes in the United States for more than a decade. This supports the theory that the more news a person consumes, particularly television news, the less they know about the actual state of the world. The media has a "relationship with fear" that can correlate with fear fore some viewers. One example of this "relationship with fear" that the media seems to have can be found in a 1994 article in "US News and World Report" where the authors, despite noting briefly that violent crime...

References: Bazelon, E. (2010). Arguing Three Strike. New York Times, 1-7.
Dorfman, L., & Schiraldi, V. (2001, April 10). Off Balance: Youth, Race, and Crime in the News."
Furillo, Andy. (2012) The Sacramento Bee. Three strikes battle return to fall bailout in California, 1-4.
Glassner, B. (1999). The Culture of Fear. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Jackson, J., & Naureckas, J. (1994, June 1). Crime Contradictions.
Reynolds, J. (2009). The Hidden impact of three strikes. Monterey Herald, 1-4.
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