So, it’s strike eleventy1 for the beleaguered three strikes law. I can’t say I’m surprised or disappointed, as every evaluation of the practicality of such laws (as opposed to the pure feel-good politics it generates of being seen “getting tough”) has concluded that this law is a terrible step backwards that violates the bill of rights. (Because it’s disproportionate punishment, the same clause in the BORA that prevents torture) Not only that, but it’s been pegged as violating one of the pillars of western justice, (proportional and consistent punishment,) blowing out the budget paying for extra prisons, increasing re-offending and generating more victims, and also presenting a risk that third-time offenders will resort to homocide rather than leave a witness around to testify for their life sentence.
Naturally, “Family First” rubbishes this news, contending that California’s crime rate went down after the law was implemented, and that our crime rate is going up.
Let me address the claim that our crime rate is increasing first: Yes, more victims are reporting crimes. No, the rate at which crimes are committed compared to the increase in population has not had a “real” increase – a lot of the new reports can be attributed to increased public awareness around domestic violence due to the perfect storm that was the convergence of the “It’s Not Okay” campaign with the Section 59 repeal law.
Secondly: I’ll concede that California’s crime rate went down. But correlation doesn’t have to imply causation. California is also one of the most liberal states in the USA, even when it’s under Republican governorship, and it may well have taken good preventative measures in concert with enacting a three-strikes law. Also, most of the side effects of such laws are long-term. I certainly share their optimism that nobody be killed should such a law be implemented here, but I don’t doubt that it will make re-offending worse, undermine rehabilitation, (Which FF probably doesn’t mind as some spokespeople have demonstrated they don’t believe it ever works) and create more victims for only a perception of safety.
Here’s hoping that the debate is ended by National finding a viable way to drop support for this Hindenberg of a law.
1Not guaranteed to be a real number.