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Old 02-29-2008, 10:17 PM   #16
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Originally posted by namkcuR
And the three-strikes law is garbage. There are people in prison for LIFE who are only guilty of PETTY THEFT because of this stupid thing. There's a guy who is prison for LIFE because he stole a few videotapes, and another person who is in prison for LIFE because he stole a few golf clubs. Does that sound reasonable to you? That's all this three-strikes law accomplishes. It makes it possible for people who have committed three relatively small crimes get more time than someone who who has committed one BIG, REAL crime that is worse than the first person's three crimes combined. It is ABSURD.
LINCOLN, Neb. August 16, 2006
-- Kevin Holder's rap sheet is 43 pages long, dating back to 1980, and he just got another entry, his 226th arrest.
His list of charges includes theft, trespassing, assault, resisting arrest, violation of protection order, criminal mischief, assault on an officer, possession of drug paraphernalia and child abuse. Many of Holder's offenses are misdemeanors for which he paid fines and was released. But he also has been sentenced to at least three prison terms for felonies. He spent 18 months in prison beginning in 1990, four years in 1996 and another year in 2002.
On July 23, 2007, two convicted burglars out on parole (Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes) were accused of killing three family members during a home invasion and arson in Cheshire, Connecticut. They each had more than 20 prior burglaries on their records.
This is what 3 strikes laws are meant to stop... this is what truly pisses people off about our justice system. (Notice I provide names and specifics, not "some pothead" or "there's a guy") and I'm sure I could find many more examples of criminals with rap sheets several pages long still being arrested for committing violent crimes than you can find of carefree potheads or petty thieves doing life in prison because of Three Strikes laws.

Can you in fact name one? While you're at it, can you name any Three Strikes Law that counts misdemeanors or other minor infractions, something less than serious or violent felonies, as strikes?

The argument given on Death Penalty threads is "we can't take the chance of executing an innocent person." Well, what about all the innocent people that are not murdered, raped or robbed because their would-be assailant is serving a mandated longer sentence for earlier crimes? If we could identify them -- I wonder how sympathetic they'd be to your argument.

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Old 03-01-2008, 03:46 PM   #17
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Originally posted by INDY500
I see no mention that not everyone "in jail or prison" is in fact "an American." Cheeky that they would use "percentage of residents" instead of "citizens."
For instance, roughly 1/3 of the U.S. federal prison population is composed of non-citizens, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons statistics, with half of those being here illegally.
That's true, but federal prisons account for only a small proportion of inmates. (Immigration violations are themselves federal crimes, of course.) As of the end of 2007, there were 2,319,258 "residents" in US prisons (federal, state and local combined); while as of the end of 2006 (the last year for which I could find relevant DoJ data), there were 91,426 noncitizens in US prisons (again, federal, state and local combined). There may have been a slight change in the latter figure during 2007, but based on those stats at least, that works out to noncitizens comprising about 3.9% of all US prisoners. So there's no great distortion involved on the Pew Center's part in lumping noncitizens into their statistic. I think the reason they did it that way is probably because the estimate of the total US population which they were comparing the prison population to is itself drawn from the Census, and the Census includes noncitizens.
Originally posted by INDY500
Should we rethink drug laws? I would. But career criminals get little sympathy from me.
The late-'80s/early-'90s changes in drug-related sentencing are the single biggest contributor to our high incarceration rates, though, and the priority focus for most advocating sentencing reform. More than half of all inmates are incarcerated on drug-related charges. According to the US Sentencing Commission in their May '07 report to Congress, only 6% of those imprisoned on drug charges were leaders or supervisors of drug rings, 90% of them were not violent offenders, and 60% had only "low-level involvement" in drug-related activity, i.e. were couriers, lookouts or street-level sellers. In particular, the steep mandatory minimums for crack-cocaine related offenses have dramatically increased the disproportionality between black and white incarceration rates--African-Americans are now almost 6 times more likely than whites to be incarcerated. That's not an economically nor a socially sustainable way to address the illegal drug trade.

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Old 03-01-2008, 05:35 PM   #18
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Originally posted by INDY500

Not as big a problem as when as when these folks were out on the street.
It's important to remember that laws like "3 strikes and out" and mandatory sentencing didn't just appear because of new theories being taught in American law schools, they arose because citizens wanted their streets back. We were tired of the revolving doors on prison gates, the lax judges and the soaring crime rates of the 60's and 70's.
Is it perfect? No. Should we rethink drug laws? I would. But career criminals get little sympathy from me.
My point was more that for a western society the US has a startlingly high number of people in prison.
The question is often "What might we do about it?" and the answer "Longer sentences.", but another important question gets simply ignored: What causes these men and women to become criminals?
There is no predisposition of Americans, black, hispanic or white, for crime.
And the recidivism rate for inmates is very high as well. One important reason: Once imprisoned, your chances on the job market are near zero. And without a job, there is not much else to do in order to survive than to commit crimes again. Locking them up is the answer, because they are "career criminals" that don't deserve better? A bit simplistic, isn't it? And not helping much. It drives costs up, and doesn't in any way try to tackle the causes of crime.
More than one fourth of the worlds prisoners are in US prisons. The US's violent crime rate is two to five times higher than that of other industrialized nations.
If you take a look at this table, for example:
The crime rate decreased in every category since the second half of the 90's. When the recession hit in 2001 robbery and poperty crime suddenly jumped up and in 2004, when the American economy entered a boom phase again, dropped considerably. You might disagree, but I think it shows quite a correlation between your economic situation and property related crimes that is not nearly as strong e.g. in Germany.
Locking them up and throwing away the key doesn't help much if the causes of crime remain the same.
And prison sentences don't help much when it takes away even the last chance for an individual to acquire a life in legal employment.
That is why I am also uncomfortable with mandatory minimum sentences. It just ignores to find out the reason for that individual person standing before the judge.
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Old 03-27-2009, 05:37 PM   #19
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New York to ease its landmark tough drug laws

Associated Press, March 27

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. David Paterson and legislative leaders have agreed to ease drug laws that were once among the harshest in the nation and led a movement more than 30 years ago toward mandatory prison terms. The agreement rolls back some of the sentencing provisions pushed through the Legislature in 1973 by then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, a Republican who said they were needed to fight a drug-related "reign of terror." The strictest provisions were removed in 2004.

Critics have long claimed the laws were draconian and crowded prisons with people who would be better served with treatment. The planned changes would eliminate mandatory minimum terms for some low-level nonviolent drug felonies, which could cut the prison population by thousands. "In additional to being unjust, these policies are ineffective," Paterson said Friday, surrounded by Democratic lawmakers and New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman. Three decades have shown the core issue is often addiction, "a treatable illness," with far lower recidivism for those who get treatment instead of prison, the governor said. At the same time, penalties will be toughened for drug kingpins and dealers who sell to children, Paterson said. The measure will be part of the state's budget package, he said. Lawmakers are trying to enact it by next week.

Across the nation, some states have been pushing sentencing reform to empty prisons and cut costs amid growing budget difficulties. New York's inmate total has already dropped by 10,000 in a decade to about 60,000, with proposals to close and consolidate prisons thwarted by lawmakers concerned about losing state jobs. Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, a Queens Democrat, said Friday it costs the state $45,000 a year to house offenders and that the changes are expected to eventually reduce the state's prison population by more than 10,000 additional inmates, producing huge cost savings. If the reforms are approved, about 1500 inmates would be eligible to apply for resentencing but are not assured of shorter sentences, Paterson said.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat whose chamber passed a version of the legislation 98-46, said more effective residential drug treatment costs $15,000 or one-third the cost of prison. "We're establishing a more just, more humane, more effective policy for the state of New York," he said.

The legislation would give judges discretion to sentence certain nonviolent and lower felony offenders—both first-time and repeat—to local jail, probation or a combination. Some could be sent to a six-month military-style shock camp or a prison-run drug-treatment facility. Under current law, second possession of a half-gram of cocaine, a Class D felony, requires 3.5 years in prison, said Gabriel Sayegh, project director of the Drug Policy Alliance. The revisions would leave a sentence up to the judge.
In "exceptional circumstances," judges could approve prejudgment diversion drug-abuse programs and dismiss charges, said Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, a Queens Democrat who chairs the Assembly Committee on Correction.

Senate Democrats said the initial cost for expanded drug treatment programs isn't yet known, but federal stimulus money is available for it, and over time the change should save money. Republicans said the changes would protect drug dealers and release criminals into the community. They also argued they should not be included as part of the budget vote. They said the maneuver ties the hands of lawmakers, and also gives political cover to those who choose to go along with the wishes of Democratic leaders. "There's only one purpose, that is to coddle the criminals," said Sen. Martin Golden, a Brooklyn Republican.

Robert Gangi, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, described the proposed reforms as a breakthrough but said they would still leave some harsh provisions intact. He said there are about 12,000 drug offenders in state prison, and he said 35 to 45% would have been eligible for judicial diversion under the proposed reforms. "The Rockefeller drug laws, for better or worse, were the granddaddy for mandatory sentencing laws," said Gangi, whose nonprofit organization monitors prisons. "They initiated, in effect, the movement...that swept the country in the '70s, '80s and '90s." Other states have also been adjusting their drug laws but many still have stiff mandatory minimum drug sentences, he said. The U.S. has about 2.3 million people in prison or jail, up from 1.5 million in 1994, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. In 1973, only about 300,000 people were locked up, Gangi said.
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Old 03-27-2009, 08:15 PM   #20
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The Three Strikes Law. That's a tough one.
So what's the fix? A little more jail time if you're caught again?
I'm willing to bet some will continue to steal , rolling the dice, hoping to get lucky. Some will, some won't. Some will end up in jail or prison most of their lives anyway in that scenario.
So what's the fix?

Kinda crazy.
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Old 03-28-2009, 03:24 PM   #21
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I'd like to think they're making room for the current white collar crime wave, ha.
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Old 03-29-2009, 03:22 PM   #22
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If anyone is interested in the views of my students in the local juvenile detention home, you can find them here.

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