Lesser Crimes Don’t Deserve Life Behind Bars!!
This isn’t just a New Orleans or local post, but a national one. This post is about mandatory sentences and the 3 strikes and you are out policy.
Suppose an unfortunate woman’s boyfriend hides half a kilo of coke in the attic, and the cops find it. The judge agrees that you may have been unwittingly involved in this crime, and you don’t deserve the life sentence he’s going to give you. Then the judge gives her life without parole, and she had no violence in her record.
What is wrong with this picture? Everything!! The judge, because of mandatory sentences, had no choice but to give the woman life.
State spending on corrections, after adjusting for inflation, has more than tripled in the past three decades, making it the fastest-growing budgetary cost except Medicaid. Even though the prison population has leveled off in the past several years, the costs remain so high that states are being forced to reduce spending in other areas.
Suppose you plead out two nonviolent crimes, like simple burglary and possession of stolen goods. Then you are caught shoplifting in Walgreen’s. It’s quite likely an overzealous assistant district attorney would pursue the three strikes rule to lock you up for life! If the alleged thief has a public defender with a 100 or more cases, he won’t give you much help since he is busy with capital offense and murder cases.
Half a million people are now in prison or jail for drug offenses, about 10 times the number in 1980, and there have been especially sharp increases in incarceration rates for women and for people over 55, long past the peak age for violent crime. In all, about 1.3 million people, more than half of those behind bars, are in prison or jail for nonviolent offenses.