The three-strikes law is a mandate that provides ground for life sentencing of frequent offenders, a felon who’s been convicted for more than two violent crimes. This mandate allows for a significant increase in prison sentences, with almost no chance of release in most cases.
Suppose you have committed a violent crime more than twice, you may be subjected to the three-strikes law on your third strike. Nevertheless, this mandate varies from state-to-state. For instance, Florida’s three strikes law requires for there to be a 10-20 yrs to life imprisonment sentence for crimes involving guns, regardless of the case detail.
The violent crimes that fall under the three-strikes law include robbery, rape, murder, and arson. However, the list varies within each state; some states also comprise non-violent crimes such as bribery, felony theft, and drug trafficking in their three-strikes law decree.
Although the three-strike law helps reduce crime, it also has its shortcomings; learn more about the limitations of the three-strike law below.
What Are the Drawbacks of the Three Strikes Law?
1. It’s Not a Guaranteed Crime Deterrent
Despite the implementation of the three-strikes law, the rate of violent crimes committed in some states continues to rise. Putting this into consideration, it can be assumed that the mandate is perhaps not as effective as it was thought to be.
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2. It Can Lead to Overpopulation of Correctional Facilities
The United States fills in 25% of the prison population worldwide, despite having only 4% of the world’s total population, which is a result of strict mandates like the three-strike law. Because of this law, prisons become crowded with inmates who serve lengthy sentences, while others serve life even for crimes that may be considered petty. Additionally, since crime rates continue to rise, the inflow of new inmates increases by the day.
3. It Condemns Convicts with the Assumption That Rehabilitation May Not Be Successful
The three-strike law compromises convicts’ chances of rehabilitation, as they may no longer feel the need to reform, knowing their sentence has no flexibility whatsoever. For the justice system to be effective and fair, convicted felons should be given a chance to reform as they may hope to be reunited with society one day.
4. Offenders with More Than Two Non-violent Convictions May Also Qualify for the Three Strikes Law
The mandate was initially implemented to impose life sentences to offenders who were at risk of committing more gruesome crimes. However, in some states, offenders who have committed nonviolent crimes, such as drug possession, sometimes succumb to hefty life prison sentences as a result of the three-strikes law. It is in some cases unfair for petty crimes to attract such severe penalties.
5. For It to Be An Effective Crime Deterrent, It Requires Two Prior Convictions
In some states, the hefty long-term sentences imposed by the three strike law can be good deterrents for crime; however, it requires two prior convictions to be effective. Therefore it may not apply to violent offenders who have evaded convictions but continue to commit severe crimes; for the three strike law to become useful, the offender should have to have been convicted twice before the final sentencing.
The Most Significant Function of the Justice System Is to Initiate Rehabilitation for Offenders
When applied suitably, the three strikes law has the potential to keep away dangerous felons who may be a danger to society for life. However, there are offenders who may go through the system with the potential to reform, and mandatory sentencing may have a negative impact on their rehabilitation, especially those serving sentences for misdemeanor offenses.