Cjus 801- discussion forum 2-reply 3 | CJUS 801 – Criminal Justice Program Evaluation | Liberty University

Reply must be at least 200-300 words. You must support your assertions with at least 2 citations from sources such as your textbook, peer-reviewed journal articles, and the Bible. 

Textbook: Vito, G. F., & Higgins, G. E. (2015). Practical program evaluation for criminal justice. Waltham, MA: Elsevier. ISBN: 9781455777709.


Crime Prevention and the Three Strikes Law 

In the United States, the prevention of crime and society’s protection is one of the main goals of criminal justice policy, one that may conflict with the right of the individual protected by the Constitution (Cole et al., 2017).   Punishment of criminal acts is a form of prevention. “Punishment is only a means to a greater good, usually the prevention or at least the reduction of future crime” (Samaha, 2014, p. 24). Punishment as a means of preventing crime is based on Deterrence Theory, which can be traced to Cesare Beccaria’s works in the 18th century (Bernard et al., 2016). At least 26 states and the Federal Government have enacted three-strike laws (Shepherd, 2002). The specific program of interest is the California Three Strikes Law, designed to increase the sentence of and thus the punishment of a convicted felon based not on the crime itself but the defendant’s past criminal record of prior felony convictions.  This law was held to be Constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Ewing v. California, 538 U.S. 11 [2003] (Samaha, 2014).   Analysis of the three-strikes law provides information indicating that the three strikes program is an effective means of preventing crime. 

Empirical Proof of The Effectiveness of Three Strikes Law

Empirical data exists to prove that the California Three Strikes Law has a deterrent effect and results in the prevention of crime in California.  Datta (2017) uses data collected by the California Criminal Justice Statistics Center and the Second and Third Strike Inmate Population Report maintained by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to study the effectiveness of the California Three Strikes Law.  The study looked at long term results with data collected between 1991 and 2009. Datta (2017) selected California to study the deterrent effect because of all the states, California has consistently applied the harsher sentences over a more extended period. 

Datta (2017) conducted a quantitative study that used regressions to support the hypothesis that the three-strike law helped prevent crime. The study looked at both deterrence and incapacitation. Variables used included populations of individual counties, the age distributions in those counties, income levels, minority populations, unemployment rates, and other variables.  Prison populations and the number of available prison beds were also considered.  

The study results showed a decrease in murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assaults. The decline in the murder rate was the lowest. However, the study concluded that this was because, unlike other crimes, the first offense for murder comes with a significant period of incarceration at 20 years.  Other crimes have incarceration times increase significantly on the 2ndand third strike.  Generally, a first offense felon will receive one to five years for the first offense, which doubles for the second and goes as high as twenty-three years for the third offense.  The study found that both incapacitation and deterrence impacted crime rates, but deterrence had a more substantial impact value.   The study also found that the deterrence was more significant for the second strike than the third and attributed this to certain felons will never be deterred. The study found that deterrence even applied to property crime, even though the first offense convictions are not considered a crime for three stikes. 

Christian World View

The Bible provides many examples of the importance of deterrence. It is about choice and the incentive to not sin and the penalty for that sin, thus offering guidance for the criminal justice system. “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (New King James Version, 1982, 1 John 3:4).   “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (New King James Version, 1982, Galatians 6:7). 

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