Golden Gate University Law Review


This Article reviews the impact of the Three Strikes law over the last decade and concludes that, based on data that have been collected and the manner in which the law has been applied, it has proved effective. The first section of this Article explores the history behind the legislation and the law itself. The second part of this Article sets forth three reasons why the Three Strikes law has proved effective: (1) The Three Strikes law is carrying out its goals by incapacitating career criminals and deterring crime. Since its enactment California's crime rate has dropped, and, for the first time in eighteen years, parolees are leaving the state. (2) Contrary to initial concerns, the Three Strikes law has been implemented without substantially increasing state costs or overcrowding prisons. (3) The Three Strikes law has built-in safeguards that allow trial judges and prosecutors to exercise discretion to ensure that the law targets those who are career criminals. This discretion has been successfully exercised throughout the state. This is evidenced by the fact that most incarcerated thirdstrikers who are serving sentences of twenty-five years to life committed more than three serious or violent felonies.

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