Career Criminals Targeted: The Verdict Is In, California’s Three Strikes Law Proves Effective


Being sentenced to life in prison for stealing a few video tapes or stealing golf clubs? These are few of the stories that are emphasized when criticizing California’s Three Strikes law. Since its inception, California’s Three Strikes law has generated controversy. Aimed at incarcerating career criminals, it has been tagged as one of the toughest “tough on crime” statutes in the country. It has been over a decade since the law was passed and this article explores why – contrary to most of the other academic discussions of the law— it has been and continues to be effective in dealing with career criminals. There are three reasons why it is working: (1) The Three Strikes law is carrying out its goals by incapacitating career criminals and deterring crime. (2) The Three Strikes law has been implemented without substantially increasing state costs or overcrowding prisons. (3) The Three Strikes law has built-in safeguards that allow trial judges and prosecutors to exercise discretion to ensure that the law targets those who are career criminals.


Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure

Date of this Version

August 2006