EDITORIAL: THREE STRIKES:--THE IMPACT AFTER MORE THAN A DECADE...ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

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By the Judicial Reform Commitee, United African-American Ministerial Action Council

 

October 10, 2009 (San Diego)--The much ballyhooed Three Strikes laws have had a negligible impact on states' imprisoned populations since its enactment, with the notable exceptions of California, Florida, and Georgia.*  For most states and the federal government, Three Strikes' enactment appears to have been "much ado about nothing.” Their 1998 analysis of Three Strikes laws points out why this should come as no surprise -- every one of the states that enacted Three Strikes laws already had existing repeat offender laws on the books; for many of those states, the change affected by Three Strikes was marginal.

 

The exceptional impact is in California, the only state in which any felony offense can trigger a Three Strikes sentence. California Department of Corrections data report that nearly two-thirds (65%) of those sentenced under California's Three Strikes laws are imprisoned for nonviolent offenses.

 

CALIFORNIA IS THE ONLY STATE IN WHICH ANY FELONY OFFENSE CAN TRIGGER A THREE STRIKES SENTENCE. TWO-THIRDS OF CALIFORNIA’S STRIKERS ARE IMPRISONED FOR NONVIOLENT OFFENSES.
It would be difficult to overstate how much California has been out of step with the other Three
Strikes states on this issue. California, a state with 35 million residents, incarcerated approximately four times as many people under its three strikes law as all of the other states.

 

A POLICY BRIEF BY THE JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE 4 THREE STRIKES AND YOU’RE OUT

 

“THE IMPACT OF 3 STRIKE LAWS 10 YEARS AFTER THEIR ENACTMENT”

 

Three Strikes States, combined, even though those states’ combined populations are 112 million.

 

CALIFORNIA “STRIKESOUT” 4 TIMES AS MANY PERSONS AS ALL OTHER 3-STRIKES STATES COMBINED CALIFORNIA 3-Strikes 42,322 Other States 10,624

 

As a rate per 100,000 residents, California's Three Strikes rate (119.3) is 18 times as great as the average for the other Three Strikes states (6.7).

 

The 42,322 people incarcerated under California's Three Strikes law exceed the entire prison population of each of the other Three Strikes states, except Florida and Georgia.
 

IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO OVERSTATE HOW OUT OF STEP CALIFORNIA IS WITH OTHER THREE STRIKES STATES.
 

For more information on UAAMAC’s Judicial Reform Town Hall Meeting October 22, 2009 contact:
Robert Robinson call (619) 264-1213

 

* Of the 23 strikes states, data on the number of people incarcerated under Three Strikes were available for 21 of those; 14 states(Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin) each had fewer than 100 people incarcerated under Three Strikes; no state outside California, Florida and Georgia has had more than 400 people imprisoned under Three Strikes.

 

The opinions expressed in this editorial reflect the views of its authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. If you wish to submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.