California’s Three Strike Rule
A very controversial topic floating around today in newspapers, news broadcasts, and college classrooms is that of California’s three strike law. This law states that a person convicted of 3 felonies will automatically serve 25 years to life upon conviction of their third felony. Under this statute it is not only the third felony that is harshly punished either. If a person receives a felony conviction and already has one strike against them, they automatically must be sentenced to double what they normally would be sentenced for a new conviction. An example of this second strike punishment would be for example, a man convicted of robbery that would normally be sentenced to 9 years would be sentenced to 18 years instead. In California, inmates can earn custody credits and under normal circumstances an inmate can get out on good behavior after only serving 50 percent of their original sentence. However, with this new law, 2nd strike offenders must serve 80 percent and 3rd strikers must serve 100 percent.
This third strike statute also does not allow the offender the option of probation or the option of serving any time of their sentence in a rehabilitation institute. Any convictions prior to this law being enacted also can count as a strike. Any violent felonies are counted even if they occur before 1994, when this law was enacted. Juveniles can also get strikes against them if a few conditions are met. They have to be 16 years of age and the crime must be a violent felony. Felony convictions even count if they happen in other states as well. Multiple strikes can outcome from a single court appearance as well. For example if a man robs another person at gunpoint and then steals a car, a strike would be given for each crime.
I am a transfer student and at my previous college my professor brought the subject up for debate. He gave a real life example of a California man that was going to prison for 25 years because he robbed a pizza guy to feed his family. It was his third strike even though it was a fairly minor crime. I was in shock, almost every person in the lecture thought that was ridiculous. I mean there were people in that class that were fighting mad about it. I admit at first I thought that 25 years is a little harsh but then once I really started to think about it that man had already committed two previous felonies. In my opinion if you have already committed two felonies and commit another, you deserve to stay in prison. I have spoken to quite a few people on this subject and I seem to be in the minority with my feelings on this subject. I agree with this statute 100 percent. Even if the third felony is for something minor and the convict gets 25 years for it. It is still a felony. How can a person commit three felonies and still not deserve to spend a long time in prison? This law has only one problem and it is most likely why more states do not adopt this statute. The prisons are already so overcrowded and in a country with such a high recidivism rate it would make things exponentially worse. It would make the system bog down even more than it already is.