Three-Strikes Laws

Are they too harsh?


California's controversial three-strikes law sends repeat offenders to prison for 25-years-to-life for non-violent crimes like shoplifting. Although the California law is the nation's harshest, 24 other states have adopted similar laws in the past decade. In April, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the law forces judges to mete out "cruel and unusual punishment," prohibited by the Constitution. The two cases the high court will review have become a lightning rod for debate over mandatory-sentencing policies adopted by the federal government and the states in drug-war crackdowns over the past 30 years. Advocates say such policies have cut crime, but critics say other reasons caused the decline. Meanwhile, several states have begun modifying their mandatory-sentencing laws to give judges more discretion in cases ...

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