Three Strike Law in Prisons: Alternatives, Effectiveness, Equity, Financial feasibility

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1826 Words
Date:  2021-06-16

Alternatives / Effectiveness / Equity / Financial feasibility / Total

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(1)Status quo: if an offender is charged with its third offense whether minor or violent criminal act he/she will be subject to mandatory ruling, which is a 25 to life sentence. 1 / 2 / 1 / 4

(2) How to fix the problem: Adapting a new law that sends all dangerous felons to prison, and eliminating good time. For those minor felons serving their third strike should be shifted to having early probation instead of prison time. 3 / 3 / 3 / 9

(3) Distinctive alternative: is Proposition 47. 3 / 2 / 3 / 8

Alternative 1. Status Quo


Under the status quo, many people are incarcerated for petty offences exposing petty offenders to violent criminals within the prison system. Inmates with those petty offences like pick picketers are subjected to life imprisonment under the three-strike law, subjecting petty offenders to be housed with violent criminals who would influence them to become hard-core criminals (Bardach, 2015). The status quo in general is not deterring crime, its no justices being met, the crime rate stayed the same, and the law increases recidivism rate causing prison overcrowding. Lastly for those petty orders there is no effectiveness in helping rehabilitation the offender to insuring them after their second strike they wont be back. Sentencing is unconstitutional which it breaks the Sixth Amendment that entitles defendants to a trial by jury. The policies for the three strike law are just unplanned and made off of assumptions that are why the status quo for the law is ineffective. According to Coker and Wiesberg (2012) only 3.1 % of the third strike inmates were incarcerated for first degree murder while 1.7% of the inmates were incarcerated for rape. A majority of the inmates incarcerated through the third strike were property or drug crimes. Moreover, 45% of the inmates released between ages of 18 to 29 years return to prison within the same year.

Financial feasibility

The cost of sustaining criminals under the three strike law in prisons would be very high making it financially unfeasible. The cost to house an individual inmate is 35,000 a year and for mental ill inmates it is three times as much let alone an inmates age and health costs. The government would have to increase its budget for the prison system and give higher taxes to the people just because of the amount of third strikers locked away for unnecessary sentencing. This will also cause the prison population to grow so large that the government would not adequately cater for each and every inmate. The government then will have to build more prisons to keep the criminals in. More workers for each facility will be needed and wages to pay these works.Durlauf and Nagin (2011) argue that,on the basis of a 50% increase in population in prison over a 20 year period, the three-strike policy would cost $7.2 to 10 $billion. Moreover, due to mandatory sentencing of life in prison without parole, the decision results to an aging prison population. For instance, in the state of Washington, of the 110 inmates serving time under three strike law, 48% are over 50 years. According to estimates the number of inmates over the age of 50 years, serving time under three strike laws would increase to 195 by 2021 using there would be no further offenders. Thus, due to special elderly needs, the cost of housing an elderly inmate is expected to increase to $98,000 per year.


Three strikes laws do not guarantee fairness as petty offenders, and violent offenders are treated equally, which is wrong. A felon who shoplifted should not have the same sentence as a person who committed murder. There is a racial bias in the criminal justice system, African American men, in particular, are overrepresented in all criminal justice statistics for things like arrests, victimizations, incarceration and executions. The imbalance is mainly the result of the "war on drugs." Many more blacks than whites are arrested on drug charges because the police officers find it easier to make their arrest in inner city neighborhoods, where drug dealing tends to take place on the streets. The three strike law mostly includes drug offenses as prior "strikes," so more black than white offenders are being subject to a life sentences under their "3 Strikes"Moreover, there have been cases where petty offenders such as pick picketers sentenced to a life imprisonment under the three-strike law. The fact that a majority of the third-strike law sentences were petty offenders has raised public outcry prompting for a serious reconsideration of these rules. In the state of Washington for instance, approximately, 53% of the three strike offenders are from the minority group, this begs the question of racial equality as the minority make up of 24.5% of the total population in the state.The situation gets worse when it comes to the population of the African Americans sentences under the three strike laws, almost 40% of the offenders incarcerated are from this community. Yet they make up of 3.9% of the state population.

Alternative 2. How to fix the problem


Adapting new laws that will sends all dangerous felons to prison under the their third strike instead of petty offenders is effective because, sentences for non-violent crimes will be reduced to probation over which their improvement would be evaluated and necessary amendments can be made to their sentences (Bardach, 2015). This Alternative shows effectiveness as it aims at realizing the goals of the criminal justice systems for locking away violent criminals for mandatory sentencing to protect the citizens; while the petty offenders are locked away for a short period for them to learn the consequences of committing crimes. Not only adapting new laws but the criminal justice system will find methods to help an inmate not reoffend. Methods like mandatory rehabilitation centers to not only stop crime, but also as a place for inmates to transition back into society. This will also help the inmate give back to the community in restorative justice. For those serious offenders they will have plenty of time in prison to reflect on their criminal acts and maybe start some programs to help other offenders on their second strike not to reoffend due to the seriousness of sentencing. The state of Washington also came up with ways to encourage crime preventions, and deterrence. The state officials recognizes the spending funds on inmate vocational education for instance produces a cost benefit of $20,632 per particiant.


When adapting new laws to show equality laws that only sentence violent criminals would be jailed; while petty offenders would be awarded short jail terms. Instead of awarding both the violent criminal and petty offender similar prison sentences, each fonder category would be subjected to appropriate sentences depending on the nature of their crime. The harshness of the mandatory laws will than subside and start allowing the system to practice justice and fairness. Lastly another way this alternative can show equity is remove any strike that is giving for drug offense because it is known that mostly blacks are convicted on drug offenses and are giving strikes because of it.

Financial feasibility

This alternative is very financially feasible because there are cost savings and cost cuts which can be used elsewhere. The reduction in the number of incarcerated individual would mean fewer mouths to feed, clothe and house. This will also reduce the number of dependents in prison system (Rodriguez, 2003). The budget allocation for the criminal justice systems would be reduced by half and some prisons would be self-sustaining, as the inmates would be engaged in constructive activities. Lastly, fewer prisons will have to be built and many workers get to keep their wages the same.Besides, the state should release inmates who are incapacitated due to age or medical conditions in a bid to ease congestion in the prisons, this could save the state more funds up to $1.5 million.Alternative 3. Distinctive alternative


Proposition 47 shows effective because it deters violent criminals from committing crimes again and also punishing petty offenders by shorter sentencing because non-violent offenses are not a felony but misdemeanors. However, it is not politically acceptable because people believe that all criminals should be jailed for maximum terms possible and not be allowed to walk free after a short period (Coker, & Weisberg, 2012). People would most likely try to avoid committing violent crimes so will deterrence will take place and offenders 16th amendments will not be taken from them. The proposition seeks to achieve these goals by realizing four key strategies: (1) reducing theft of property and drug possession crimes valued at under $950 to straight misdemeanors. (2) Forming a safe Neighborhoods and schools Fund created by the saving achieved by the change in the sentencing rules. (3) Creating a process for persons serving a crime sentence for drug and theft offense to appeal for resentencing as a misdemeanor, and (4)creating a process where persons who have completed their sentence can apply for reclassification by the courts as a misdemeanor.


The three strike law does not consider the nature of the offenses meaning, that even those petty offenders are considered felons and are subjected to a maximum jail term as opposed to short-term sentencing for misdemeanors. Not all offenders are criminals and once one if jailed or misdemeanors, their lives are messed up including poor job prospects and are forced to live the lives of criminals and commit more crimes because they have no other alternatives. On the other hand Proposition 47 grants the defendants who were previously sentenced for a felony and are currently serving their sentence to be resentenced under the new misdemeanor proposition. Proposition 47 is preferable because it authorizes all defendants who had already completed their term for a felony charges to apply for the reclassification of their conviction to misdemeanors (Siegel, & Welsh, 2009). Lastly this ruling offers hope to current and former convicts to serve short sentences and get a job because they can get a job after misdemeanor charges as opposed to the felony charges (Siegel, & Welsh, 2009). The public would be safe due to no violent criminals being locked away while petty offenders are sentenced, trained, and freed to continue wit thru lives (Coker, & Weisberg, 2012).

Financial feasibility

The three strikes laws calls for more than 20 years of jail terms that require a lot of money to sustain inmates. If all the petty offenders were jailed for that long, the cost would be too high to house inmates (Rodriguez, 2003). On the other hand, Proposition 47 calls for shorter jail terms and reduces the number of inmates jailed. There is a significant increase in the net state criminal system saving under Proposition 47. Which these savings can be as much as hundreds of millions of dollars which can be used in preventing school dropout, truancy, treating mental health, substance abuse, and their victim of the criminals (Siegel, & Welsh, 2009). There is significant cost savings because prisons costs estimated are at over $156 million per year that can be spent in sustaining safe neighborhoods (Bardach, 2015). Additionally, the government will not have to increase its budgetary allocation for the prison systems, as it has always been the case.


In conclusion based on the evaluation of criteria for three-strike law above the second alternative scores high getting 9 point out of all the f...

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Three Strike Law in Prisons: Alternatives, Effectiveness, Equity, Financial feasibility. (2021, Jun 16). Retrieved from

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