Three Strikes Law
B. A. Barth
Criminal Justice Administration
The Three Strikes Laws
Begun in the 1990s, the Three Strikes Laws are a category of statutes which were enacted in the United States by certain state governments. These laws were enacted to mandate longer periods of imprisonment for persons convicted of a felony on three or more separate offenses. The term is used similar the three strikes and you’re out rule in baseball. This could also be described, as such statutes are most often known, officially as mandatory sentencing laws. The underlying philosophy of these laws is that any person who commits more than two felonies can justifiably be considered incorrigible and chronically criminal, and that permanent imprisonment is then mandated for the safety of society. While the practice of imposing longer prison sentences on repeat offenders than on first-time offenders who commit the same crime is nothing new in American states (since the 19th Century, New York State has had a Persistent Felony Offender law that continues to this date), these sentences were not always held mandatory in every case, and judges exercised much more discretion in what the length of the sentence would be. In 1993, Washington State passed the first true "three strikes" law, which contained virtually no exceptions to this law. One year later, California adopted this law (approved by referendum in that state) and the “three strikes” idea spread swiftly to the other states. By 2004, 26 states of the 50 U.S. states as well as the federal government had laws which resembled or otherwise satisfied the basic requirements to be called a "three strikes" law - primarily, a person convicted of a third felony conviction will be sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole until a long period of time, most commonly 25 years, has been served. How the three-strike laws are applied throughout the states varies considerably....
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