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Three Strikes and You're Out: Vengeance as Public Policy

NCJ Number
D Shichor, D K Sechrest
Date Published
297 pages
Public concern about violent crime, the inability of the criminal justice system to curb violence, and widespread perceptions of leniency toward repeat criminals have resulted in laws generally grouped under the rubric of "three strikes and you're out."
Arguments surrounding these laws range from the belief they will control persistent, serious, and violent offenders to concern about their ultimate effectiveness and high cost. Various issues related to three strikes laws are addressed, including local and national variations of habitual offender, career criminal, and recidivist statutes. Consideration is paid to historical, legal, economic, and social issues associated with the application of three strikes laws nationally. Current information is offered on problems in implementing three strikes laws and mandatory minimum laws at State and local levels, their potential for crime reduction, and their effect on correctional systems. Further, the effect of the media on the development of three strikes laws is reviewed, and issues related to law enforcement in an era of increasingly harsh penalties for repeat offenders are examined. Perspectives are offered that deal with offenders generally and female offenders and street gang members specifically. The relevance of three strikes laws to white collar crime and the impact of three strikes laws on criminal justice agencies are explored. The effectiveness of three strikes laws is questioned, and directions for future research are suggested to address legal, penological, criminal justice, and policy issues of three strikes laws. References, notes, tables, and figures