History And Purpose Of Three Strikes Laws

3793 Words16 Pages
History/Purpose of Three Strikes Laws

Since the policy was enacted in the early 1990s, three strikes laws have been one of the most controversial issues facing the American criminal justice system. In general, advocates believe that locking up criminals will protect society. Critics believe that three-strike policy can only be effective with offenders that are on their last strikes (Worrall, 2008). However, other critics explain how three-strike laws don’t significantly reduce crime because most criminals mature out of the criminal lifestyle (Worrall, 2004).
There are two cases that pushed and guided the three strikes policy that received national attention. First, was Kimber Reynolds, who was murdered in cold blood in 1992 during a
…show more content…
Richard Allen Davis was on parole during this time and had long history of violent crimes. This incident helped in making Mr. Reynolds’ point that most people who are committing these crimes have already had previous experience with committing violent crimes, and they are getting out of prison and are repeating the similar violent crimes without receiving harsher sanctions (Walter & Downs, 1994). Reynolds, a hurting father and a famous photographer, petitioned the legislation in coming up with the “Three Strike and You’re Out” policy. Reynolds campaigned that offenders who commit three violent crimes should receive a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. In 1993, Washington, then California, became the first states to add the three strikes statute to their books. In January 1994, during President Clinton’s State of the Union Address, he requested for the enactment of a federal three strikes law (Austin et al., 2000). However, by 1997, 24 other states and the federal government enacted three strikes policies (Austin et al., 2000).
Many states already had a habitual felon law on their books, where as if an offender were convicted of two or more offenses, he or she would receive a harsher prison sentence (Stolzenberg & Alessio, 1997). The difference between the three strikes law and habitual felon law is that the three strikes law takes discretion from the judicial officers, i.e. prosecutors and judges. Three strikes laws were
Get Access