Research Paper on Legal Reform: Habitual Offender Laws

Essay by denid2004University, Bachelor'sA, October 2006

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A habitual offender law can often be referred to as the "three strikes and you're out scheme." This means that an offender can be prosecuted after committing a crime more than three times. There are positives and negatives to this type of law practice, and there have been many articles that have researched it. It is an important aspect to discuss, because it is a controversial issue of today's criminal justice system. Does this type of law affect a criminal's behavior? Is the concept of a habitual offender fair and just? These are important questions that raise debate about habitual offenders. While discussing the theories of habitual law, the importance of it and its concepts will be revealed.

What is a Habitual Offender?

A habitual offender is a person who has committed criminal acts repeatedly and is assumed to be a threat to a society. Habitual laws are set up to protect the people of a community from criminals, and other harmful incidents.

Habitual offender laws can also be referred to as the "Three Strikes and You're Out" scheme, in which criminals who commit more than three crimes will be considered a felon after the third criminal act. After the third act has been committed, the criminal has been evaluated as a danger to society, and is usually forced to serve an extended sentence in the penal system. A habitual offender's prison sentence would be longer than a first time offender. In most cases, all three strikes must be defined as felonies; in other cases, the felonies committed must be associated with a violent act (Mentor, 2004). The habitual offender laws have been around for decades, but were rarely used. In 1993, however, it was reinforced in Washington State, but only covered certain serious crimes (Zimring, Hawkins, & Kamin,