Saturday, November 24, 2007

Strike Three... You're Out...

Three strikes. A good plan, but useless in practice.

The problem with Three Strikes, is that it has no provision for equal enforcement. I have seen guys pull down 25 years for a petty theft. Then the next turd through the courtroom gets no jail time at all for possessing crack. Both had two previous strikes. The difference? The judge.

For those who are not "in the know", Three Strikes is a "thing" in California which allows a person to be sent to prison for 25 years to life upon conviction for their third felony. There is no real requirement that they be violent felonies, nor is there any requirement that Three Strikes even be enforced at all. It simply ALLOWS a judge to sentence a career criminal to life in prison.

The problem? One judge may have a soft spot for drug addicts. A two striker, perhaps with a prior for a grand theft, and a second for assault with a deadly weapon, comes into his courtroom on a drug charge. Rather than sending this knucklehead to prison for the dope offense, the judge sentences probation and required drug treatment programs, perhaps with a suspended sentence of some truly useful length. Same idiot goes into the very next courtroom and gets a different judge. This judge really despises drug addicts because his daughter died of a drug overdose, and now the judge feels the need to punish all drug addicts for her death. Second judge gives doper 25 years for felony possession. Harsh? Maybe. Unwarranted? Who knows?

The quandary I find myself in from day to day is this. We have a huge prison overcrowding problem in this state. I have no problem with the first judge giving the doper felony probation and required treatment, if the program is continually monitored and the knucklehead is regularly tested. If the guy can actually get clean from this, more power to him. There is truly no guarantee in our prison system, that this guy would ever clean up in a prison cell. Drugs are as readily available IN PRISON as they are on the streets. Possibly even more so.

What pisses me off, is when I arrest someone for a VIOLENT felony, and the shitbag has two previous convictions for VIOLENT felonies, and I see this "person" back out amongst human beings after one year in prison, when the doper is doing 25 years.

I do not expect every person with three felony convictions to spend a long stretch in prison. We simply do not have the capacity for that. What I expect is for the system to work as it was originally intended. Put violent or career felons away for a long time.

There is no rhyme nor reason to this system. It was intended to get violent felons off the streets for the rest of their lives. It was written to give judges the final decision as to who went away and who didn't. Unfortunately we have so many goddamned bleeding heart liberal Berkeley lawyer judges in this state, Three Strikes has become a joke. The petty thief does 25 years, while the carjacker walks free. Figure that one out.

1 comment:

USAincognito said...

Fairness is definitely NOT something that occurs anymore in our judicial system. I shake my head time and time again after a judge will sentence a minor offender to some hard-*ss time but let a major offender walk with a slap on the wrist & a little probation. Does not make sense.