Ideas for an Open Society: Repealing Three Strikes

Crime rates in the United States have been falling for nearly a decade, yet the imprisoned population remains at the historically high level of two million. The climate is ripe for change. A growing number of Americans now support an approach that addresses the roots of crime over strict mandatory sentencing, such as three strikes sentencing that calls for extended prison terms after a third conviction. Sometime this fall, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of California's three strikes provision, which has accounted, in large part, for the state's massive prison system.

In the July 2002 issue of Ideas For An Open Society, Soros Justice Media Fellow Sasha Abramsky, author of Hard Time Blues: How Politics Built a Prison Nation, argues that both the U.S. judicial and the political system should reexamine the concept of three strikes prison sentences. Three strikes, he writes, should be out.

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