Three Strikes Revisited

Josh Farley writes:

Shirley White of Port Townsend wrote us a letter to the editor that criticizes the state’s three strikes law.

She says a friend of hers had 3 second-degree robbery convictions that earned her a lifelong stay in prison. White says voters didn’t approve second-degree robbery as a “strike” offense, but that it was added later.

Here’s the letter in its entirety. Decide for yourself:

My Friend Didn’t Deserve to Die in Prison

The “Three Strikes” law that voters passed in 1993 did not include second-degree robbery on its original list. It was added later.

Plus, in 2003, the Justice Policy Institute showed that after 10 years, non-strike states realized a greater reduction in violent crime than states that had three strikes laws.

Most states that adopted this law changed their mandatory sentences or reformed their parole policies. Isn’t it time that Washington reforms this harsh law? Imposing a sentence of life without parole for shoplifters and petty drug offenders is illogical, inhumane and incredibly wasteful.

My very good friend passed away July 4th. She was incarcerated as a “three-striker.” To support a drug habit, she committed three second-degree robberies.

She never actually used a weapon and there were never any injuries. Her total “take” amounted to about $900 — and for this she was spending life in prison. She had completed eight years of her sentence when she died. Clean and sober for eight years, she chose not to ever use again, and didn’t belong in that prison.

People can and do change. My friend, a very kind, beautiful, and caring person, is a perfect example of the injustice of our three strikes law. She deserved a better chance … as do many others.
Shirley White

4 thoughts on “Three Strikes Revisited

  1. …”deserved a better chance”…?

    How many chances should a person get before they’re put away? How many folks have to become victims before we call ENOUGH?

    If three crimes isn’t enough, would four crimes suit? Five, six?

    Why are we obsessed with giving criminals opportunities they did not give the victims of their crimes … victims including family and friends.

    Innocent people deserve our protection … not the third chance criminal.
    …in my opinion,
    Sharon O’Hara

  2. I think Sharon hit it on the nose! How many strikes do you give a repeat offender? Obviously, this person wasn’t reformed by previous jail time.
    Sorry if you disagree, but your argument isn’t going to change my opinion.

  3. Shirley, apparently your friend chose her profession and now must suffer the consequences of her acts and really how many times do we let her out to repeat her crimes. I say the more people like her we get off the streets the better off society will be. I’m sorry you can’t see that.

  4. While it is easy for us to judge and persecute her, we don’t know what has happened in her life to lead her to a life of drugs. Many of us have coping skills to help us deal with things in perspective but other people have suffered horribly and do not have the positive coping skills. I know of a woman who had a problem with alcohol- the only way she could get help was to commit a crime. A lot is related to society, a lot is related to coping skills and learned behaviors, until we know the whole story- we honestly have no room to judge.

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