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This paper will discuss the literature that examines the relationship between the “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law and its impact on the criminal justice system in California. The three strikes law was passed as a “get tough” response on crime, and its goal was to serve as a deterrent and to reduce violent crime by incarcerating repeat offenders for the rest of their lives. Repeat offenders are thought to be responsible for a majority of crimes. The most thorough study of recidivism, done in 1986 by the National Research Council, produced the estimate that “active violent offenders” probably commit two to four violent crimes a year, while “active nonviolent offenders” were responsible for five to 10 property crimes a year.
While other states have adopted the same or a similar policy, California was selected for this review because it is one of the first states to enact the policy, it has the broadest three strikes measure in the country, there are a greater number of offenders convicted under this law than in any other state, and the laws’ implementation in that state has caused the most debate. Being debated are many issues, and many questions have been raised. In this paper, the beginnings of the law with a description of the policy will be given in the introduction, and the following questions will be studied:
· Are the three strikes laws contributing to prison overcrowding?
· Are these laws targeting non-violent offenders?
· Do these laws serve as a deterrent?