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Estimated Benefits and Costs of California's New Mandatory- Sentencing Law (From Three Strikes and You're Out: Vengeance as Public Policy, P 53-89, 1996, David Shichor and Dale K Sechrest, eds. -- See NCJ-163458)

NCJ Number
P Greenwood; C P Rydell; A F Abrahamse; J P Caulkins; J Chiesa; K E Model; S P Klein
Date Published
37 pages
California's mandatory sentencing law mandates 25 years to life in prison for an offender convicted of any felony following two prior convictions for serious crimes, doubles sentences on the second strike, requires consecutive sentences for multiple counts, and limits good time credits.
California experienced a general rise in reported crime rates during the 1970's and 1980's, although surveys showed crime rates were steady or declining between 1980 and 1995. On the other hand, violent crime increased more rapidly after the early 1980's. California began toughening its sentencing policies and adding prison capacity in the early 1980's, just as crime rates began a modest 5-year decline. Between 1984 and 1991, more than 1,000 bills were passed by the California legislature to change felony and misdemeanor statutes. The overall thrust of sentencing alternatives for repeat offenders was similar, but they varied significantly in terms of offenders targeted and sanctions imposed. Sentencing alternatives, particularly the three strikes law, are evaluated with respect to offenders and offenses. The proposed model estimates offender populations, offense rates, costs and benefits, and crime reduction. The authors conclude that failure to fully implement the three strikes law will decrease its costs and crime reduction benefits. 11 references, 22 notes, 6 tables, and 14 figures