Effects of Three Strikes Laws

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Incarceration has been used in many countries to reduce the level of crime in the society. However, this method had not been effective for many years since ex-convicts would go back to crime after leaving prison, often ending up in a worse state than in the beginning. In order to curb this trend, many countries have adopted the use of three strike laws. Even though there are variations to these laws from one country to another, the basics of the laws are common in all countries. Offenders who are unresponsive to imprisonment and are brought to justice for the third time after two episodes of incarceration are given long sentences with a minimum of twenty five years if they have committed serious crimes like murder. This has helped in reduction of criminal activities. However, the use of these laws is not cost effective.

Countries which use the three strike laws have benefited since there has been a reduction in the level of criminal activities .by handing enhanced sentences to unresponsive criminals, the countries discourages potential offenders from going into a life of crime. In addition, the level of security in localities increases since dangerous criminals have been removed from the society and will remain in prison for long periods of time. Hence they are incapacitated from engaging in crime (May, 2014).

On the other hand, enhanced sentences have increased the financial burden the government has to bear. The cost of prosecuting unresponsive offenders and running the prisons has highly increased since the adoption of the three strikes laws. From a social point of view, the laws have resulted in some people spending so much time behind bars that they have grown old therein (LAO,2005). This has separated them from their families. Consequentially, many children have had to grow up without the guidance of their fathers.




Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) (2005). A Primer: Three Strikes-The Impact after More           Than a Decade. Retrieved from            http://www.lao.ca.gov/2005/3_strikes/3_strikes_102005.htm.

May, D. (2014). Have Sentence Enhancements Had a Deterrent Effect on Crime and are the         Social Welfare Implications of these Laws?  All Theses. Paper 1991.Retrieved from            http://tigerprints.clemson.edu/all_theses.


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