Three Strikes Laws

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In the early 1990s, in an effort to decrease crime states decided that mandatory sentencing laws for repeat criminal offenders would be a good idea. As a result, several states created statutes that would require these sentences to be implemented when an offender committed a third offense; which has come to be known as “three strikes laws.” On the surface, this law seemed like good public policy; however, critics believe the sentences are not only disproportionate to the crimes that would send a criminal to jail for 25 years to life, but it would also cause the costs to house these criminals to skyrocket.(Shoener, 2015)
In 1993, Washington was the first state to pass the three strikes laws; however, it later became known as the Persistent Offender Accountability Act. According to this act, courts are required to sentence “persistent offenders” to a term of life in prison
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To qualify as a persistent sex offender, an offender must have two separate convictions of specified sex offenses. The offenses qualifying as sexual strikes are listed in Rev. Code Wash. Sec. 9.94A.030 and include first and second degree rape as well as several additional crimes, such as assault or burglary, when there has been a finding that the crime was sexually motivated. In the 2008 session, the legislature passed SB 6184, which expanded the crimes that invoked the life imprisonment penalty to include any felony crime conviction in another state where there had been a finding of sexual motivation, if the minimum sentence imposed was 10 years or more. (McCarthy, 2009) One thing that separates Washington’s law apart from other states is the fact that neither judges nor prosecutors can choose to suppress other serious convictions, as a means to avoid the life without parole sentence. The only exception to this law would be if the Governor signs a pardon or grants the criminal
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