Patterico's Pontifications

10/31/2004

Criminal Justice Professor on Three Strikes

Filed under: No on 66 — Patterico @ 1:30 pm

Via PrestoPundit, here is a radio segment from the John and Ken show featuring Cal State Los Angeles Professor Jennifer Walsh, who has done a study on the effectiveness of Three Strikes called Tough for Whom?

Prof. Walsh concludes that the law has been very effective in targeting the right people. She also mentions a very important point that I have made before: Three Strikes actually saves money, by preventing crimes that would cost society millions. At the very least, these savings should be considered as an offset against increased prison costs.

Finally, she makes a fascinating point that I have overlooked in this discussion: many people serving second-strike sentences are actually third-strikers who already received leniency from a judge in the form of having one or more of their strikes stricken. If the law is interpreted to apply retroactively to second-strikers, then these people will end up getting two breaks — the one they already got from a judge, and a second break from Proposition 66.

6 Responses to “Criminal Justice Professor on Three Strikes”

  1. I don’t know about the second break. Isn’t that where the “waiving double jeopardy” provision may actually have some teeth? If one strike is stricken but another, previously stricken strike is resurrected, isn’t there at least the potential that inmate’s resentencing could end in a wash?

    Xrlq (6d213c)

  2. No. The double jeopardy provision will have no effect in such cases, because if your current felony is not a strike, it doesn’t matter how many previous strikes you have — you are still treated as though you have none.

    In truth, the “second break” argument is really just another reminder that third-strikers are getting a bigger break than second-strikers. Assuming the law applies retroactively to second-strikers, third-strikers will be treated exactly the same as second-strikers (i.e. both will be treated as though they had no previous strikes). Accordingly, third-strikers are getting a bigger break.

    Patterico (756436)

  3. So if you demand re-sentencing on the grounds that your current offense is no longer a strike, you don’t have to waive double jeopardy as to a past offense that could have been prosecuted as a strike, but wasn’t? If not, what on earth DO inmates waive double jeopardy for?

    Xrlq (6d213c)

  4. For prosecution for offenses arising out of the same set of operative facts as the crime for which they received their latest conviction.

    Patterico (756436)

  5. Ah. It sounds like this is meant to address a narrower issue than I thought, namely, that a prosecutor may have gone after an easy felony for strike three, not because a violent or serious one wasn’t committed, but because the lesser offense was easier to prove, and the sentence just as stiff.

    The ironic part is that if this law had been enacted earlier, it might not have helped Pizza Man, and may have even hurt him by allowing prosecutors to retry his “theft” as the robbery that it was, thereby destroying the basis of the appeal that eventually released him under the existing law.

    Xrlq (6d213c)

  6. Right. For example, my wife had a guy who committed a horrible sex offense, and was facing 50-to-life either under the Three Strikes law or the sex-related one-strike law. So he pled to 25-to-life to have a chance of getting out.

    They just happened to structure the plea around the Three Strikes law. So now he gets resentenced to a paltry term, and she has to retry him. Hopefully, the statute of limitations has not passed . . .

    Patterico (756436)


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