The Three Strikes Law was passed in California with an huge majority of
somewhere near 70% of the population. In the 20 or so years since the
law was passed, it has proved to be a failed experiment in crime and punishment.
The point is brilliantly presented by Malcom Gladwell in his book "David
and Goliath". The 3 Strikes Law, along with many of its supporters
and like-minded judges, believe that people who commit crime do so after
careful consideration of the risks and rewards in commiting the crime.
This theory necessarily means that a would-be criminal considers the liklihood
of getting caught, the possible punishment if he or she is caught, the
possible fruits of the crime, and the way he or she will feel after doing
The problem with this theory is that many studies in criminology have established
that criminals do nothing even close to this risk/benefit analysis. Clearly,
a severe penalty will have no deterrent effect if the would-be criminal
never thinks about the penalty. Studies show that people who commit the
crime either do so because they are desperate, or because they are bored,
or because they are high on drugs. By and large, they DO NOT consider
the penalty or sentence if they get caught.
You see, supporters of the 3 Strikes Law do not take into account the indirect
effect this law has on society. One such effect is that many of the men
who are sentenced are fathers. The children of these men must then grow
up without a father, which greatly increases the liklihood of juvenile
delinquency and psychiatric disorder. The law also institutionalizes the
individual, so when they are released, their only assications are with
other criminals. California has somewhere in the range of 8 times more
people in prison than all of Western Europe. If that doesn't make
you fear our continued loss of liberty as a society, you probably voted
for the 3 Strikes Law, and still thinks its a good idea.
At this office, we investigate each case carefully, spend time with our
clients and their cases, and take every step to avoid the severe and many
times unreasonable prison sentences that can occur in California. There
will always be those violent and dangerous offenders who must be locked
up, but being "tough" on crime as a blanket rule will only create
more problems and more criminals.