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.