By Laura Robledo

Last week, students across the country discussed the effectiveness of longer prison sentences in our #DoNow3Strikes post. We asked students Do lengthy prison sentences help deter crime? Should voters or legislators be part of determining prison sentences?

In 1994, California focused on reducing crime by passing the Three Strikes Law. This act allowed felons convicted of serious and even non-violent crimes, such as shoplifting, on their third crime to be imprisoned for life. Last year, however, California voters approved Proposition 36, which softened the law by focusing violent offenses. Those against Proposition 36 argue that the Three Strikes Law lowered violent crime in California. Reports however, show that out of the 1, 000 prisoners released under Proposition 36, less than 2% committed new crimes.

Throughout the week, students argued about the pros and cons of long prison sentences, but many of them agreed that the Three Strikes Law is unfair since it has the power to send felons to prison for life for a non-violent crime.

The Time Should Fit the Crime

Many students argued that a felon who shoplifted should not have the same sentence as a person who committed murder.

Longer Sentences Work

Other students discussed how longer sentences allow the felon to think about his actions.

Lengthy Sentences Do Not Work

Other students discussed how longer sentences in general do not deter crime from happening in society and cost too much money.

Alternative Methods

Several students proposed the need for rehabilitation centers to not only stop crime, but also as a place for inmates to transition back into society.

Teach Life Skills

One student discussed how prisons should teach inmates more life skills.

Voters vs. Legislators

Students debated about whether or not the voters or the legislators should decide a sentence.

The Three Strikes Law is Unfair 8 March,2017Matthew Williams

  • jason

    I believe that the Three Strikes Law should not be passed. your punishment should be based on your crime and not on how many times the person has committed this crime. it does not help show that crime will be reduced, but a thief should not be imprisoned for life, next to a mass murderer. It should be made so that every time you commit the time again, the punishment should increase over time, and not just after the third time.



Matthew Williams

Matthew Williams is a filmmaker and media educator who has recently transplanted to Oakland from Los Angeles. He believes that you are what you eat and feels everyone should have a multitude of dietary options for self-realization. Matthew is the Educational Technologist at KQED.

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