This post has been written by Drishti Mehra, a student pursuing a B.A, LL.B. from Amity Law School, Noida.
The strikes or three strikes was referred to strike out in baseball or softball when a batter receives three strikes during his time at bat, which leads to an “out”; a strikeout is a statistic recorded for both pitchers and batters.
What is the Three Strikes Law?
When an individual is convicted of a crime, he or she is dealt with the severity of the crime. Crimes include petty theft, sexual assault, robbery, murder, etc. In the 90’s era, the rate of crime was increasing rapidly in the United States of America which forced the federal government to take strict actions. One of the main steps taken by the government was ‘Three Strikes Law’, which meant three serious felonies and you’re serving life imprisonment or imprisonment for 25 years and also there is severe punishment for the second knockout as there won’t be any other chance after that. By introducing such measures, the rate of crime declined nationwide, most nations require three serious crimes to be committed to passing the compulsory sentence.
History of Three Strikes Law
The three-strikes law exists in more than 20 states, originally the campaign of three strikes was launched by the father of 18 years old young woman who was murdered by a man who had an extensive criminal record, the law didn’t come into force until after 1993 abduction and murder of a 12-year-old girl. The primary stage of the law was passed in 1993 when the voters of Washington approved it and it became law in 1994 when California passed it and there was a slogan which was chanted loudly i.e. “Three strikes and you’re out”. After this case around 8,00,000 people signed a petition to not only deter repeat offenders but to enforce a strict 25 year to a life sentence on those who were convicted more than once. Over the years three-strikes laws faced many controversies and the first controversy it faced was that the third crime must not be a serious crime as it would include a 25 years sentence for a less serious offense. It was the biggest penal experiment of its modern American history due to its differentiated provisions and most importantly the doubling of nominal sentences for many second-strike offenders.
Three strikes law in India
In India, crimes can exist in so many forms, which are classified on the basis of the seriousness of the crime. Over the period of time, the rate of murder has increased by 7% as compared to previous statics and kidnapping by 47%, also rape has been declared as the most common crime committed in India. With the increasing rate of crimes and lenient laws in our society gives more confidence to the criminals to commit these offenses without any hesitation and a classic example of this is Nirbhaya Case which shook the country to its root and questions the safety of its citizens, irrespective of their genders but fail miserably.
The government of India has realized the need for the hour and has taken some steps but as clearly seen they are not enough. In a country where the crimes are increasing at this rate, the need to implement the ‘Three Strikes Law’ is at the peak as it could be the hope for the country where animals are safer than women. According to the surveys, most of the time the criminal is known for the victim and also has a list of crimes committed before. By, passing this law it will begin to eradicate the crime as they will be threatened by the strict law and they could be convicted for 25 years, by this, they will be forced to think 100 times before committing such act as after second-strike there will be knockout and no way out would be there after such sentence is declared. In a country like India, this law can be treated as a weapon to deal with and control the increasing rates of crime.
Criticism of the three-strikes law
Despite all the features of this law, there are several criticisms as it somehow constraints or contradicts the court framework and it also clogs the jail with defendants who must be detained. While being in jail for such a long duration would lower the chances for the trial and having a fair trial and the probability for the lifelong incarnation would be created.
Three strikes law also opposes the belief in and proven effectiveness of rehabilitation, it is believed that these laws encourage punishment rather than healing and strike down of the law reunites people with their families and increases opportunity to try to be good. Also, the law was created to prevent crime but there was no decrease in the rate of crime. As most of the violent crimes are not pre-planned but they are committed in anger or in heat of passion. Another reason why offenders who repeated their offense did not get arrested because out of 100, only 20 crimes are reported.
As the rate of crime increased in today’s time, the need was felt to introduce a law that was so strict that people would think twice before committing any crime, so the three strikes law was introduced in the United States of America. Considering the context of India, after seeing the increase of crimes there should be a law like this which would create fear among the criminals. After seeing the features of the law, there were many criticisms faced by the law as it was believed that this law is unfair and many people will be in jail serving till the end and that is unfair for the trial. Also, it is said that it violates the framework of the court, and striking the law down would give a chance to convicts to meet their family and do good in the future.