- Education and Science
California's Three Strike Law Creates Injustice
Enacted in 1994, California passed this three strike law that makes mandatory a 25 yr. sentence or more for someone who has committed three crimes, even non-violent crimes, and has served time for the previous crimes or committed felony petty theft. Even crimes committed under age 18 are counted.
Generally, it is a good law but there needs some common sense inserted into the legalese. There are adults in state prison who have spent 17 years for stealing a $100 item. How? When the crime was committed, it happened to be the third time a felony was done. The inmate could have committed two non-violent felonies, like drug possession. Worse, a felony is a felony, even if the stolen item is worth $50. Now, before those who support the law start their argument consider this: many are sitting in prison for three strikes at a cost of $50,000 per inmate a year. So, is the cost of their internment really worth it for these types of non-violent criminals?
The law should be modified to take into account the severity of it, its danger to the public and not allow these crimes that occurred under age 16 to count towards the third strike. Those that are already serving should be reviewed and determine if their incarceration is worth the expense to the state. If the crimes a thefts that are not serious, drug possession, or non-serious felonies, make them pay just not 25 yrs. Maybe 5 to 15, depending, but forcing 25 years or more seems to be overkill in some situations.