Stike Out Three Strikes

Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 12th gradeA-, December 1996

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Last year in California voters approved a controversial ballot initiative.

Proposition 184, also known as the three strikes and you're out law, was passed on

November 9, 1994. Under this new legislation repeat offenders, upon committing their

third felony offense, will be sentenced to a mandatory twenty-five years to life in

prison(California 667). The initiative passed by a landslide, with 76% of the voters in

favor of it. The State Senate soon after voted the bill into law, with only seven members

voting against it. The three strikes initiative stemmed from the killing of Polly Klass by

Richard Allen Davis, a convicted felon. The killing outraged the entire state but what

enraged people even more was that Davis had been in and out of prison his whole life and

was still free to kill again. Soon people began calling for laws that would put repeat

violent offenders behind bars for life.

The premise of the new laws became an easy issue

for politicians to back. To oppose such legislation seemed to be political suicide, so most

politicians backed the initiative. Although many civil liberties groups opposed such

mandatory sentencing measures there was little they could in the face of tremendous voter

approval. Many voters did not realize that this bill could put potentially incarcerate people

for ludicrous amounts after the commission of a minor offense. Even more voters did not

realize the cost of implementing such a bill. Now that this new legislation has been in

effect for a year and the tremendous negative effects it have become obvious we must

repeal it.

One of the issues that must be considered when imposing mandatory sentencing is

the increased cost of incarceration. In the state of California it costs $20,000 per year to

incarcerate an inmate under normal circumstances(Cost 1).