Crime in America has come home. Ask anyone; they can tick off the names, dates, and grisly details from the Oklahoma bombing, the O.J. Simpson double murder trial, the kidnapping and murder of Polly Klaas, the drowning of Susan Smith's children, the roadside slaying of Micheal Jordan's father, the Long Island Railroad Massacre, the never ending string of post office shootings, and on and on. The "three strikes law, "a mandatory sentence of twenty-five years to life for anyone convicted of a third felony was passed to prevent second time offenders from committing a third strike, to target repeated offenders, and to keep repeat criminals off the streets (SIRS).
Public outrage over crime has found political expression in the proposal and enactment of various laws mandating lengthy sentences for repeat felons. Put forward under the slogan "three strikes and you're out, "these laws generally prescribe that felons found guilty of a third serious crime be locked up for twenty-five years to life (Farve). Three strikes laws are effective in crime reduction because they keep habitual criminals off the street and deter repeat offenders from committing crimes that would land them in jail for many years. This law has come in response to public concerns about crime and the belief that many serious offenders are released from prison too soon. It has been said that "the purpose of this law is simple: Offenders convicted repeatedly of serious offenses should be removed from society for long periods of time, in many cases for life (Austin).
Even many of the lower-level offenders sentenced to twenty-five years to life terms for third-strike offenses such as possession of drugs or petty theft show records with such persistent histories of lawlessness that supporters of the law say they can be corralled only through long-term incapacitation. "You canâ