In my opening argument I want you to think about a few very important effects of this law. It is interesting to note: that many law enforcement professionals oppose the Three strikes law, our court systems are already backed up with cases, and the three strikes law allows for differences in sentencing.
Many law enforcement professionals oppose the "3 Strikes" law out of
fear such laws would spur a dramatic increase in violence against
police, corrections officers and the public. A criminal facing the
prospect of a mandatory life sentence will be far more likely to
resist arrest, to kill witnesses or to attempt a prison escape. Dave
Paul, a corrections officer from Milwaukee, Oregon, wrote in a
newspaper article: "Imagine a law enforcement officer trying to
arrest a twice-convicted felon who has nothing to lose by using any
means necessary to escape. Expect assaults on police and
correctional officers to rise." (Portland Oregonian,
3/94). Ironically, these laws may cause more, not less, loss of
The criminal courts already suffer from serious backlogs. The
extraordinarily high arrest rates resulting from the "war on drugs"
have placed enormous burdens on prosecutors, defense lawyers and
judges, whose caseloads have grown exponentially over the past
decade. "Three strikes" laws will make a bad situation even worse.
Faced with a mandatory life sentence, repeat offenders will demand
costly and time-consuming trials rather than submit to plea
bargaining. Normal felonies resolved by a plea bargain cost $600 to
defend, while a full blown criminal trial costs as much as $50,000.
Since most of the defendants will be indigent and require public
defenders, the expense of their defense will be paid by taxpayers.
The "3 Strikes" proposals differ from most habitual offender laws in
that they make life sentences without parole mandatory. Thus, they
tie the hands of judges who have traditionally been responsible for
weighing both mitigating and aggravating circumstances before
imposing sentence. Judicial discretion in sentencing, which is
admired all over the world for treating people as individuals, is one
of the hallmarks of our justice system. But the rigid formula
imposed by "3 Strikes" renders the role of sentencing judges almost
Eliminating the possibility of parole ignores the fact that even the
most incorrigible offenders can be transformed while in prison.
Countless examples are on record of convicts who have reformed
themselves through study, good works, religious conversion or other
efforts during years spent behind bars. Such people ought deserve a
second chance that "3 Strikes" laws make impossible.