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Friday, September 30, 2011

Essay on California Three Strikes Policy - Arguments against Three Strikes Policy

The Three Strikes Policy refers to the policy imposed in many states imposing a mandatory and extended period of incarceration to individuals who have been convicted of serious criminal offense on three separate occasions.

One of its direct effects is that it attaches longer prison sentences to individuals who have been convicted of the crime.  Since it makes the prison sentences longer, it is supposed to serve as a deterrent to certain crimes.  The idea is for the criminals to think twice before they commit a certain crime for the third time since the penalty to be imposed is much higher than the previous convictions.  The State of California justified the imposition of Three Strikes Law on repeat offenders on the basis that repeat offenders are the most difficult criminal offenders to manage (“A Primer: Three Strikes - The Impact After More Than a Decade”, p.1). Repeat offenders are also perceived as unresponsive to imprisonment and they are incorrigible.

It also serves to incapacitate criminal offenders from committing crimes.  The lawmakers think that placing criminal offender behind bars longer will make the society a lot safer.  It is argued that when recidivists are placed behind bars the streets are a lot safer.

While the state of California believes that the Three Strikes Policy is the solution to managing crime, there are those who believe that there are certain disadvantages which should not be neglected.  In fact, there are those who believe that its disadvantages outweigh its advantages.

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Those who are against the Three Strikes policy believe that public money will be used to maintain these criminal offenders.  They base their argument on the idea that the government spends public money for each day that criminal offenders stay in prison.  Consequently, more government money is spent when criminal offenders stay longer in prison.  It should be stressed that states like California do not have enough resources to fund all its public welfare programs.  When government spends public money to maintain these prisons then the public is prejudiced as it divers the fund away from public welfare programs to maintenance of prisons, health care of inmates, and salary of prison officials.

As it is now, California has the highest prison populations in the United States. According to Shane Goldmacher, the number of incarcerated prisons increased in the past two decades mainly because of the tough on crime approach applied by lawmakers (p.1).  Because of the Three Strikes policy inmate population in prisons have increased.   Shane Goldmacher also stated that the costs of maintaining state prisons have also doubled since 2000.

Moreover, Three Strikes policy wastes human resources.  When criminal offenders spend more than a decade in jail simply because they committed a non-serious offense for the third time, valuable human resources are wasted.  Human assets which are supposed to contribute to the improvement of the economy are put to waste.  In this case, Three Strikes policy, deprive the criminal offenders of the chance of parole where they can be released before they have completely served their sentences.  When these happen, they do not have any opportunity to help their family and contribute to their society and to the government.

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