The Three Strikes Law

The three strikes laws enacted by both the state and federal governments ensured that convicts with three serious criminal offenses get a mandatory and a lengthened incarceration. These laws constitute the controversial habitual offender laws. The implication of such laws was that after the third serious criminal offense a convict was forfeit to spend the rest of their lives in life imprisonment. The application of the three strikes law varies from one state to the other due to then variabilities in determining the seriousness of a crime.

Generally, burglary, rape, assault, homicide, robbery and auto theft constitute the three strikes definition of serious crimes. The net result of widespread adoption of the three strikes statute and has been an overcrowding of prisons while serious crime remains undeterred. More prisons are being built to accommodate the effects of application of the three strikes laws at the expense of other beneficial community development objectives.

Moreover, studies have also established that criminals who have committed their last strike will employ any means at their disposal to try and escape the police dragnet. A classic scenario is the violent interchange of fire between the police and the criminal. If such criminals escape arrest then there is a likelihood that they will resort to more violent crimes as they are more willing to kill. Controversial results in the application of the three strikes laws have led to the lifetime incarceration of petty criminals such as shoplifting in the same manner as serious crimes.

A philosophical analysis bent on the legal maxim “innocent until proven guilty” posits that in the event that an individual is convicted thrice even if such crimes were petty crimes, what follows is that there is going to be some institutionalized assumption that such a person is dangerous hence the application of the three strikes law(City News 2006).


City News. (September 20, 2006). Feds Consider Three Strikes Law For Dangerous Offenders. http://www. citynews. ca/news/news_3715. aspx Fagan, Jeffrey. (2008). Legitimacy and Criminal Justice. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law.

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