• The Bill departs from the central principle of just sentencing, which is proportionate response to wrongdoing. The “three strikes” regime, to some extent on strike two and especially on strike three, ignores the nature of offences, which include conduct that ranges from the relatively minor to the very serious. The regime ignores almost all the aggravating and mitigating factors relevant to assessing the relative gravity of a criminal wrong. The application of the regime, especially at strike three, will often be unjust. Specifically, the regime will often impose grossly disproportionate punishments on relatively minor offences. It will also fail to distinguish relatively minor and very serious offences, which is unjust to victims as well as to offenders.
  • The application of the regime is unlikely to deter would-be offenders in general, or the offender with one or two strikes in particular.
  • There is no need to cancel eligibility for parole to establish that parole is a privilege and not an entitlement.
  • Cancelling eligibility for parole for all second strike and most third strike offenders will not deter offenders but will undermine incentives for prisoners to reform or to refrain from further offending in prison.
  • The regime will remove the incentive for offenders facing a strike three conviction to plead guilty (or to cooperate with authorities), which will sharply increase trial costs and impose unnecessary trauma on victims.
  • The regime has a substantial fiscal cost, which would be better spent on (among other things) victim support, intensive policing, and improving parole supervision.
  • There are more effective and promising ways to address recidivism, which include increased use of existing sentences such as preventive detention, principled reform of parole eligibility, and “front-loading” of criminal justice interventions to achieve maximum deterrence and rehabilitation.
Read the whole article. The newsletter also includes an article on the history of the three strikes idea.