THREE STRIKES ARE OUT

A CALIFORNIA COURT CRIES FOUL ON THE GET-TOUGH SENTENCING LAW; ALABAMA UNCHAINS THE GANG

At the time, it seemed to many people like a good idea. In the wake of several brutal murders by former convicts, California enacted the toughest "three strikes" law in the nation. Any criminal with a serious or violent prior felony would automatically have his sentence doubled for a second conviction and, on a third felony conviction, would be put away for 25 years to life. But the 1994 statute, endorsed by 72% of California voters in a ballot initiative, had troubling consequences. The courts became clogged with the three-strike cases of nonviolent criminals. (One man got 25 years to life...

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