Opinion on Three Strikes Law
The Three Strikes Law was a selfish idea provided that most of the time a victim may have committed a minor offense. According to it, one is given only a second chance. However, people should be granted room to change through the correction centers. Sentencing them based on this law denies them a chance to become better citizens. The assertion that a state could sentence an individual charged of felony for up to 25 years if they had committed a similar but more serious offense previously has failed to serve its purpose since, in many cases, one was punished unfairly.
In my view, this is a very destructive sentencing scheme. It implies there is no correction and community policing because instead of an individual being given time to change for the better, they are now given tougher penalties (Walsh, 2007). The law only leads to the increase of people who fill in the already infiltrated prisons. Recent statistics suggests that 33% of prisoners have been charged under this infamous law (Walsh, 2007). Consequently, this contradicts the current requirement to reduce the number of convicts. The correction centers should help to accomplish the task; however, the Three Strike Law has only aggravated the pathetic state of the prison system. People who are charged under the disgraceful Three Strikes Law make up about a quarter of the prisoners (Walsh, 2007). If this goes on, soon there may not be enough places in the prisons. Interestingly, according to statistics, there were slightly over a million prisoners in America in early1990s. Currently, the number is about 3 million making America home to the largest number of the world’s prisoners (Skiffer, 2011). What the authorities ought to have done was dealing with the issues such as mental illnesses, poverty and alcoholism. Some of these people are homeless; so, why not to accommodate them in correctional facilities and resolve such problems?
This law has always been unjust and had no real effect on the crime rate. If anything, it has just served to worsen the situation. As it was previously mentioned, it is both unfair and economically burdensome. Undoubtedly, sometimes criminals do change. They want to live a better life; a life far from wrongdoings. The state should help them by taking them to the correctional facilities. If the state becomes harsh on them, it does not help to prevent crimes in any way in the future (Latessa & Smith, 2010). In order to cope with the problem, former offenders should not be punished severely. Instead, they should be given a less stiff penalty and, consequently, a possibility to reform. There have been criminals who have moved ahead and reformed, engaged themselves into productive activities and earned a decent income. What this shows is that the states should address the real causes of criminal conduct and find out why people commit crimes. After that, the officials should tackle issues such as drugs, alcoholism, and unemployment (Walsh, 2007).
Let us consider, for instance, the case of Wilkerson who made a turn-around in his life and stopped robbing. However, even after he reformed and became a law-abiding citizen, he was still arrested and sentenced to six years in jail. The fact that this happened in Southern California only shows a lack of will to deal with crime decisively. Wilkerson stole a pair of ordinary socks. In my opinion, such a severe penalty in this case was unacceptable since the socks were only worth about $3. The court meted out punishment arguing that he had had two previous charges, so that one was the third. This assertion was barbaric and cruel. At this rate, the prisons will soon be full. Moreover, such sentences deny the offenders a chance for parole hearing. The Californian law is senseless because, obviously, the state does not help to correct criminals and help them go back into the community. It only makes them resent and laugh at the law (Kieso, 2005). There have been even some funny cases. For example, there is a guy who was sentenced to death apparently for stealing a plate of pizza, the reason being that he had two prior convictions.
25 years behind bars is a very long time. It deprives an individual of the second chance to reform and become a better person. This law is not just a bureaucratic mistake masterminded by Frankenstein but also a legacy of many political choices. It may be argued that its Californian creator wanted to discourage a repetition of felony crimes. In the beginning, the law only served the interests of the Democrats who were desperate to send a new message to the middle class Americans (Skiffer, 2011). They hoped to act tough and help reduce cases of serious crime such as rape. While this came in handy at the moment, it did not foresee the cases of crowding in the prisons. The initiators of the law only wanted to win trust of the majority and votes (Skiffer, 2011).
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Nowadays, the victims of the law are treated with disdain, as though they do not have a life. They are people who are literally left to die. Take, for instance, the case of Wallace who was sexually molested while in prison by a fellow inmate and contracted a renal disease (Skiffer, 2011). If lobbyists and pro-reform activists had not intervened in time, he would have died. Individuals have a right to fair treatment even if they are in prison. There have been cases when judges who pass the sentences disagreed over the “harshness” of the law. It is needless to sentence one who steals pizza to twenty-five years. One may ask what actually transpired prior to the enactment of the law as there is absolutely no humanness in it. Moreover, considering that the tax payer gives money to keep a prisoner in jail, this law has become an added economic burden for the society. The people who enacted, or helped to enact the infamous law, in essence, have stopped being champions of human rights and, instead, have become the oppressors. This was a wrong political calculation that has fueled animosity among the middle-class and low-class Americans (Kieso, 2005).
The law is draconian and not friendly to the poor masses (Kieso, 2005). Many people including bankers and swindlers get away with much more worse crimes than those mentioned previously. Although people should be deterred from committing wrongdoings, every punishment ought to comply with an offense. Imagine going to jail for 25 years for stealing pizza. I absolutely agree with judges who joined other voices to help reform the cruel Californian Law, a law that has been only politically convenient.
Thus, rather than promoting the rights of the less privileged in the society, the Californian Law just punishes individuals through the penalty failing to give them a chance to reform. The poor struggling majority have been the most affected for, in most cases, they are the ones in the court rooms. The Three Strikes Law that is the result of the political manipulation has provoked a surge in the prison population, worsened the living conditions, and caused the spread of communicable diseases, among the untold miseries. Overall, the American society should deal with the issues such as drugs, economy problems and mental illnesses and resolve them before they rear their ugly faces and explode into crimes.