Three Strikes in the Criminal Justice System
In an ideal situation, the penalties imposed by the criminal justice system are applied with the ultimate goal of rehabilitation and the lowering of the recidivism rate (the rate of reoffending for a convicted individual). However, for various reasons, the ideal is unattainable. Some people leave jail or prison after their first conviction and do not have the opportunities or means to reintegrate into society. Unfortunately, there are some convicted individuals who re-offend and commit other crimes. The three strikes law is aimed at repeat offenders and increases penalties for those convicted of three violent felonies.
What is the three strikes law?
According to California Penal Code 667, those facing a third conviction for a violent or serious felony can receive longer prison sentences as a response. The previous convictions have to be for serious or violent felonies. They cannot be for other types of felonies or misdemeanor crimes. Furthermore, the third charge (and possible conviction) the defendant is facing must also be for a serious felony. When the defendant hits the third strike, they no longer face just the penalties for the specific charge. Instead, they face up to 25 years to life – which is a harsher sentence than specified by some serious felonies.
When a third strike is applied, the defendant must complete the lengthier sentence. Their release and possibility for parole is also affected, as the cut-off for time served credits increases with the third strike. Those who are facing the three strike rule should be aware of what counts as a serious or violent felony. These usually include rape, murder, and kidnapping, inter alia. If a person faces their third felony, it is vital that they employ the services and expertise of a criminal lawyer.