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Three Strikes, You're Out: Impact on California's Criminal Justice System and Options for Ongoing Monitoring: Legislative Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
47 pages
The California Penal Code Section 667 called the "Three Strikes and You're Out" law was analyzed with respect to its current impact and to develop a plan for ongoing impact monitoring.
The lack of funding for the research resulted in the use of voluntary survey reporting from 63 law enforcement agencies, 18 jail systems, 26 prosecutors, 13 public defenders, 58 superior courts, 53 municipal courts, 23 probation departments, and the State prison system. Results clearly revealed that the three-strikes law has raised the stakes of felony convictions. Some criminals facing a second or third strike may be less likely to yield to arrest, although most police agencies lack the data collection capability to quantify these events. However, court data clearly reveal that many are more likely to make the State prove its case or to engage in more lengthy pretrial maneuvering before pleading guilty. The result is more court proceedings, more preliminary hearings, and more non-sentenced jail inmates. Convicted second and third strikers go directly to State prison, where they serve longer sentences and increase the State prison population. In addition, more and longer court proceedings affect the workloads of criminal justice personnel at all stages of case processing. Five options for continued monitoring of system impact include repository and clearinghouse, an ongoing survey, mandated reporting, county-coordinated reporting, and contracting out. Recommendations for further research, tables, figures, and appended tables and list of study group members