Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Three strikes and you’re out

The Herald says that “Act’s flagship three-strikes policy is falling apart, with its format derided even by the hardliners of the crime debate.” This is because of the five-year sentence threshold which “is so high that not even RSA triple-killer William Dwane Bell or samurai sword killer Antonie Ronnie Dixon would have been ‘struck out’ before they committed their notorious murders”. So even the so-called Sensible Sentencing Trust has turned against it.

For another view of the “three strikes” approach to sentencing, we turn to California. Its law is different in detail from what’s proposed here, but the example may be instructive all the same – and also for connoisseurs of the law of unintended consequences. The Economist reports:
In 1995, a year after Californians voted for a “three strikes and you’re out” law that guaranteed much tougher sentences for criminals who reoffend, Curtis Wilkerson stole a pair of socks that cost $2.50. This is usually counted as a misdemeanour, but a prosecutor in Los Angeles got it classed as a felony. Since Mr Wilkerson had already been convicted of abetting two robberies in 1981, when he was 19, his petty theft was counted as the third strike. He was sentenced to life in prison.
He is still there today.

1 comment:

laughykate said...

I wonder how many millions of dollars have been spent as a result of those socks?