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Prison Policy

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Right now, the prison system is in tatters and on the brink of collapse. There are numerous unjust policies in the system that causes problems and debates. However, there are policies that are helping the prison system to get a hold of the criminals in this country. Some of these policies are the three strikes law and mandatory sentencing. These two policies could help the prison system to be feared again.

Leandro Andrade stole videotapes from two different K-Mart stores in California (Kravets). These were not his first and only offenses (Kravets). Andrade was interviewed by a state probation officer and reported that every time he gets out of jail he always seems to do something stupid (Katsh, William Rose 219).

"The defendant admitted committing the offense. The defendant further stated he went into the K-Mart Store to steal videos. He took four of them to sell so he could buy heroin. He has been a heroin addict since 1977. He says when he gets out of jail or prison he always does something stupid. He admits his addiction controls his life and he steals for his habit."(Katsh, William Rose 219).

A 1990 misdemeanor conviction led to the three strikes sentencing in which Andrade received. Andrade was charged with two counts of petty theft with a prior conviction. California law allows petty theft with a prior conviction to be considered a misdemeanor or a felony, decided at the discretion of the prosecutor (Katsh, William Rose 219).

California's three strikes law allows the idea that any felonies can constitute the third strike, and can subject a defendant to a term of 25 years to life in prison. The prosecutor charged the two counts of Andrade's theft as felonies. Andrade argued that he should only receive one term of 25 years to life in prison because the courts can dismiss strikes on a count-by-count basis (Katsh, William Rose 219).

The three strikes statutes are seen as a way to combat the nation's crime problem. After Alexandra Zapp was murdered, her robber was found to have a long criminal history yet was never removed from the street (Ellement). If the three strikes law had been in place in Massachusetts, then Alexandra Zapp would still be alive (Ellement).

This law is a great thing for California's fight against crime. In California, the crime rate has been decreasing faster than the rest of the country (Sandoval). The article states, "more than 1,600 three-time felons with serious or violent criminal histories, and nearly 16,700 two-time felons with similar backgrounds, have been taken off the streets because of this law (Sandoval)." Also this law saves California a lot of money (Sandoval).

All of the articles show how the "three strikes" help to decrease crime. Going back to the constitutional argument of three strikes, each side has a good argument. The argument from those that say that the three strikes law is cruel and unusual punishment, which is taken from the eighth amendment, seem to be confused. Is it not cruel and unusual punishment for our citizens to suffer and be repeatedly affected by these offenders who have multiple chances on the streets but continue to prove to the citizens along with the government that they are not capable of having the privilege of having the common rights a normal citizen does?

Back to the Andrade case, Andrade admitted in the confession to the state probation officer that he was a drug addict and every time he got out of prison he did something wrong. Do we want these people on our streets? First, the young man has a drug problem which should have been addressed the first time he was in prison. Secondly, it was not his first theft conviction.



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