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Juvenile Justice and the Punishment of Recidivists Under California's Three Strikes Law

NCJ Number
California Law Review Volume: 90 Issue: 4 Dated: 2002 Pages: 1157-1202
Amanda K. Packel
Date Published
46 pages
This paper identifies contradictions in the California Supreme Court's interpretation of the juvenile adjudication provision of the State's Three Strikes Law.
The passage of California's Three Strikes law in 1994 has fostered debate over the fairness of using prior offenses as the basis for imposing harsh mandatory punishments. The application of such mandatory sanctions is particularly controversial when juvenile adjudications are included as "strikes." The California Supreme Court has twice addressed the Three Strikes provision that defines the scope of juvenile adjudications as strikes. In People v. Davis (1997), the court ignored traditional canons of statutory construction in expanding the number of juvenile adjudications that can count as strikes. In People v. Garcia (1999), on the other hand, the court used methods of reasoning and statutory construction that contradicted the framework used in "Davis," but without acknowledging that it was in effect overruling "Davis." The California Supreme Court should expressly overrule "Davis," including its methods of statutory interpretation and its broadening of the scope of juvenile adjudications that qualify as strikes. Further, trial and appellate courts in the State should dismiss prior juvenile adjudication strikes and set a clear interpretation of the Three Strikes law that resolves the conflict created by its application to juvenile adjudications. This paper also suggests other ways that juvenile court judges, criminal court judges, and legislators can reduce the conflict between the juvenile justice and the criminal justice system created by California's Three Strikes law. 249 notes


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