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Three Strikes Law

Nearly half of the states in America drafted and passed habitual offender statutes between 1994 and 1996, most commonly under the banner of the baseball slogan, "three strikes and you're out." These laws have generally been enacted under the assumption that crime would be reduced despite predictions to the contrary that the courts, jails, and prisons would become overwhelmed and that the associated costs would skyrocket. Actual experience in states such as California has borne out the worst fears of many of those predictions--the intended effects have backfired on society. This research points to the failure of "three strikes" legislation to curb crime, the needless incarceration of petty criminals in addition to violent offenders, and the current and future costs to society in the wake of knee-jerk responses by politicians to the growing problem of crime in America.

It was the night of October 1, 1993. In the suburban Petaluma, California home of Mr. and Mrs. Marc Klaas, Polly Klaas was having a slumber party with two of her friends. Her mother slept in the next room as Richard Allen Davis tied up the girls at knifepoint, then kidnapped Polly. Her sexually-abused body was located two months later, in a ditch just 35 miles from her home. Life had been strangled from her 12-year-old body. There was no apparent motive for the crime (Franklin, 1994, p. 25).

But Richard Allen Davis had spent 14 of the last 18 years of his life to that point as a guest of the penal system. He had been in and out of jail or prison at least 17 times, including three stints for kidnapping and sexual abuse. His history of violence has been traced back "to his adolescence, when he would set cats on fire." He would be rearrested, on average, within five months of being released (Franklin, 1994, p. 25). At the time of his arrest on November 30, 1993, Davis was "in violation of a pass from the halfway house he was released to and therefore w...

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Three Strikes Law. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:00, November 29, 2021, from