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Old 10-03-2011, 08:12 AM   #21
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All those stolen goodies add up after a while. U.S. retailers lost an estimated $40 Billion in 2010, that's 1.5% of total retail sales. Tack on the added expense of all the anti-theft devices the stores buy and maintain, and it does add up to a significant expense.

It's not the end of the world to steal a piece of pizza. But most honest people are tired of paying the bills for the dishonest ones.
To take that a bit further, I am one who is not at all unhappy with paying for jails/prisons if for no other reason that the overall quality of life for those outside the walls is better and admittedly that has an intangible value one has to assign one's own priority to. After all, if they're in jail they're not committing new crimes. Outside the walls anyway.

It's a rare person who is imprisoned for committing one crime. They're in prison because they were convicted of one crime. There is a difference. Does anyone think that's the only crime they committed and that those other crimes, and the measures taken to prevent them, don't have a cost to society?
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:57 AM   #22
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Does anyone think that's the only crime they committed and that those other crimes, and the measures taken to prevent them, don't have a cost to society?
No, nobody thinks that. Do you think that is relevant to the 3-strikes laws question? Do you think those against 3-strikes laws think crime has no cost?
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Old 10-03-2011, 01:18 PM   #23
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Obviously, as shown by the article in the OP, if the legal system is fubared then you can't fix it with something like three strikes. If the legal system is working well, you don't need something like three strikes. I'm not arguing for leniency. I believe punishments should fit the crime. I think the guy in the article sounds like a person who is dangerous to others and should be incarcerated for society's protection. I think people who steal a slice of pizza should have to pay for it, maybe with a significant penalty added in to make it a strong lesson. And he should obviously also have to pay for the court and cop time. And sure, maybe he only got caught the once, although he's a habitual pizza slice stealer. But we can't do anything about that. You can only punish for what is provable. Life's like that. I still think 3 strikes and zero tolerance are lazy shortcuts to keep from having to deal with life's ambiguities. It can be hard and time consuming to look at the details of each case. But that's part of the job. Maybe if so many victimless activities weren't illegal there'd be more time to properly deal with real crime.
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Old 10-03-2011, 02:15 PM   #24
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Obviously, as shown by the article in the OP, if the legal system is fubared then you can't fix it with something like three strikes. If the legal system is working well, you don't need something like three strikes. I'm not arguing for leniency. I believe punishments should fit the crime.
I do believe the punishment should fit the crime. But I do think the length of someone's rap sheet *is* a legitimate factor in sentencing; to the extent part of the justice system's goal is rehabilitation, it may make sense to give someone a "second chance" to get it right but not so much a fourth or fifth. People make mistakes and it's not always whether you make the mistakes that ultimately determine your character; it's whether you learn from them and become a better person after paying your dues. But all else being equal, yes, I do think a sentence for a 3rd criminal offense should be much stiffer than for a first offense. Repeat offenses show an inability to be rehabilitated, an inability to cooperate with the second chance society gave you.

But in the end, I think "three strikes" is as dumb as "zero tolerance" laws. Anything that triggers an *automatic* harsh sentence without allowing for a reasonable judge to base the sentence on the specific circumstances of each case is just denying common sense to prevail, which I think also circumvents justice.
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Old 10-03-2011, 02:27 PM   #25
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Obviously, as shown by the article in the OP, if the legal system is fubared then you can't fix it with something like three strikes. If the legal system is working well, you don't need something like three strikes. I'm not arguing for leniency. I believe punishments should fit the crime. I think the guy in the article sounds like a person who is dangerous to others and should be incarcerated for society's protection. I think people who steal a slice of pizza should have to pay for it, maybe with a significant penalty added in to make it a strong lesson. And he should obviously also have to pay for the court and cop time. And sure, maybe he only got caught the once, although he's a habitual pizza slice stealer. But we can't do anything about that. You can only punish for what is provable. Life's like that. I still think 3 strikes and zero tolerance are lazy shortcuts to keep from having to deal with life's ambiguities. It can be hard and time consuming to look at the details of each case. But that's part of the job. Maybe if so many victimless activities weren't illegal there'd be more time to properly deal with real crime.
I agree with you Harley, but these people who do the minor petty stuff never have the money to pay the fines and penalties. So instead of locking these people up at tax payer expense for 30-40 k a year, I advocate 3 hard swats with a cane. Sends a painful reminder that crime doesn't pay. You could probably administer justice to about 30 people a hour in a timely manner. They could pay for their own hydrogen peroxide at home to keep the wounds from getting infected. If memory serves me Singapore has had a historically low crime rate. Correlation, perhaps? It sure would deter me from grabbing the pizza without paying for it.
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Old 10-03-2011, 02:30 PM   #26
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... to accomplish at least the first two goals of a justice system and to my mind the two most important ones:
1)protect society
2)deter future crimes
3)rehabilitate criminals to be productive
4)punish bad guys
Aren't #1 and #2 really the same thing here, though?
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Old 10-03-2011, 02:34 PM   #27
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I agree with you Harley, but these people who do the minor petty stuff never have the money to pay the fines and penalties. So instead of locking these people up at tax payer expense for 30-40 k a year, I advocate 3 hard swats with a cane. Sends a painful reminder that crime doesn't pay. You could probably administer justice to about 30 people a hour in a timely manner. They could pay for their own hydrogen peroxide at home to keep the wounds from getting infected. If memory serves me Singapore has had a historically low crime rate. Correlation, perhaps? It sure would deter me from grabbing the pizza without paying for it.
Truthfully, I wouldn't have a problem with that, as long as it stopped with caning and didn't escalate into cutting off hands. And again, only for crimes against people or property. Online gambling or smoking pot or many other current crimes shouldn't result in a flogging.
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Old 10-03-2011, 02:37 PM   #28
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I say just buy them some stocks.
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Old 10-03-2011, 02:38 PM   #29
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I say just buy them some stocks.
And those don't pay dividends.
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Old 10-03-2011, 02:43 PM   #30
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And those don't pay dividends.
Except to the victims...
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Old 10-03-2011, 02:44 PM   #31
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I agree with Harley and Ziggy... 3 strikes is a cop out by the legislature forced upon the judiciary that was to lazy to handle career criminals...


As an example... I was on a jury for a guy that was charged with a DWI... not the worse crime out there, but some people think it is... he did not have an accident nor did he injure anyone...

But, the prosecutor filed it as a felony DWI... the law in Texas allows this to be a felony if there was previous convictions (not exactly sure of this as it was many years ago)...

Now, here was the interesting part... after being found guilty, the minimum sentence was 20 years as he had been found guilty of two previous felonies... (we knew this before we were on the jury)..... but, after being found guilty we also found out about the 60 or so plea deals he had where he would serve 30 days to a year for this or that... the prosecutor told us afterward that they just wanted to put him in jail for about 5 to 10 years since he was not going to change... (the time he would be in was with good behavior).... we actually gave him 45 years which means he will serve 15 and be out....

The guy was in his mid 40s and had spent half of his adult life in jail or prison.... he was the kind of person you do not want on the street... but, I would have not wanted a 3 strikes rule here just in case the circumstances were such that it did not make sense to punish the guy... also, from what I understand, 3 strikes means no parole... in Texas, only the death penalty does not have parole... (again, from what I know)....
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Old 10-03-2011, 04:29 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by harley

Truthfully, I wouldn't have a problem with that, as long as it stopped with caning and didn't escalate into cutting off hands. And again, only for crimes against people or property. Online gambling or smoking pot or many other current crimes shouldn't result in a flogging.
Again I agree with you. I'm probably an extreme right wing and left wing nut at the same time. I like my fantasy world of quick punishment including caning (yes, I spare the fingers and hands being cut off ) , but I also have libertarian leanings, too. If you want to live under a bridge and smoke dope all day, and hold a tin cup up on a street long enough to buy you some beans and more weed, power to you. As long as you arent stealing from me or anyone to get it. On certain offenses, I wouldnt mind them having their record expunged after they took their beating for breaking the law. 30-40 years ago people could change and get back into society by concealing their past. Now through the internet and such, you cant run from your record. I wonder how many people have tried to change, but cant get a job because their past keeps biting them in the butt, forcing them to go back to their life of crime. And don't even get me started on the hypocrisy of online gambling being illegal, when we have casinos everywhere and government sponsored lotteries. Legalize it! Rant over.
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Old 10-03-2011, 08:29 PM   #33
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but, I would have not wanted a 3 strikes rule here just in case the circumstances were such that it did not make sense to punish the guy.
How could it be the case that you wouldn't want to punish the guy? He has two prior felony convictions, 60 prior arrests for other offenses that went to jail time (but not conviction because he plead GUILTY) and he was lucky he didn't kill or maim someone when he decided to DWI again. This is someone who doesn't seem to learn or modify his behavior and is not safe to be in public. The public should have been protected from him long ago.
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Old 10-04-2011, 12:01 PM   #34
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How could it be the case that you wouldn't want to punish the guy? He has two prior felony convictions, 60 prior arrests for other offenses that went to jail time (but not conviction because he plead GUILTY) and he was lucky he didn't kill or maim someone when he decided to DWI again. This is someone who doesn't seem to learn or modify his behavior and is not safe to be in public. The public should have been protected from him long ago.

I was not taking about THIS guy.... but what if the guy was a criminal and when he was very young and got two felonies (lets say as minor a felony as you can get)....

Now, he had not done anything wrong for 30 years... but needed some medicine to prevent his sick child from dying... so he robs a pharmacy to get that medicine (sure, not likely to happen, just making this up for my purpose)... this is now his third felony... if I were on a jury I would find him guilty of this felony, but I would not want him to go to jail for life without having the possibility of getting out... the three strike rule says that we do not have a choice....


As for the case I mentioned, I was one who wanted to give the guy 60 years.... (there were two who voted for life).... but we were told no matter what sentence we gave the guy he was out in 15 years....
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Old 10-04-2011, 12:27 PM   #35
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Now, he had not done anything wrong for 30 years... but needed some medicine to prevent his sick child from dying... so he robs a pharmacy to get that medicine (sure, not likely to happen, just making this up for my purpose)... this is now his third felony... if I were on a jury I would find him guilty of this felony, but I would not want him to go to jail for life without having the possibility of getting out... the three strike rule says that we do not have a choice....
There have certainly been cases where these "mandatory minimum sentencing" laws have led to a jury acquitting people they knew were guilty, because they didn't feel the crime justified the mandatory minimum punishment.
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Old 10-04-2011, 02:04 PM   #36
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Lots to respond to-

ONE - Protecting society and deterring crime are NOT the same-
One could protected from a dangerous person so he cannot commit more crimes and it may have no deterrent on other like minded criminals. Death penalty opponents claim this the case with the death penalty...As it is carried out today (long long times between and crime and punishment- such a disconnect between punishment and deterrence wpuld not be surprising at all)

TWO- I completely agree that the drug laws and prostitution laws and gambling laws are a compete and utter waste of government resources. The dangers of any of those "crimes" all boil down to REAL stuff that hurts other people- theft to pay for bad choices- so lets just concentrate on catching the thieves and the muggers, etc...let people be free to make bad choices. (the drug interdiction is particularly ludicrous -easily demonstrated in every prison in the USA- where one can find all sorts of illegal drugs. IF a walled in heavily guarded fortress cannot keep drugs out, how are we supposed to keep them out of thousands of miles of freely travelled border?)

THREE-repeat VIOLENT repeat offenders? Call me a complete barbarian- but a serial rapist should have his penis removed. Serial violent criminals -take out their eyes and see how dangerous they are. Harsh? Let the punishment fit the crime...I don't expect many to agree- and that does not change my viewpoint.
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Old 10-04-2011, 03:39 PM   #37
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Now, he had not done anything wrong for 30 years... but needed some medicine to prevent his sick child from dying... so he robs a pharmacy to get that medicine (sure, not likely to happen, just making this up for my purpose)... this is now his third felony...
Actually, this is very similar to a real case in California. It's a case that argues against 3 strikes. The judge even acknowledged that the punishment was far too extreme.

This is how California handles 3 strikes:

A Primer: Three Strikes: The Impact After More Than a Decade

"Time Since Prior Conviction Not Considered.The length of time between the prior and new felony conviction does not affect the imposition of the new sentence, so serious and violent felony offenses committed many years before a new offense can be counted as prior strikes."

So, yeah, you could be a hoodlum in your youth and not do anything for 30 years, steal a piece of pizza or some diapers*, and you go to prison for 25 years.


*No kidding. Petty theft can be classified as a felony in California.
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Old 10-04-2011, 03:43 PM   #38
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I don't disagree with the 3 strikes law, because for every crime they have committed, there are probably dozens of others where they haven't been caught.

However, I think the law should be only for crimes against others where injury, or potential injury, is caused (armed robbery is an example of a potential injury; repeat DWI is another). Stealing pizza would not count, unless a weapon was involved.

That said, I would make punishment for non-violent crimes a lot more painful: full restitution plus significant penalties. And, if the criminal doesn't pay, then his assets and those of his family can be sold. So, if you want to steal a piece of pizza, go ahead - but you will lose your house and your car. See if that pizza is still as attractive if you end up making your aging mother homeless. (note: Israel used to do this in Palestine - young men knew that if they wanted to martyr themselves, that's just fine but, after they were dead, their families were destitute because the Israelis bulldozed their houses).
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Old 10-04-2011, 03:56 PM   #39
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I don't disagree with the 3 strikes law, because for every crime they have committed, there are probably dozens of others where they haven't been caught.
A fair and just Justice system only cares about the convictions and not hypothetical crimes that were "probably" committed because -- look at them! -- you just know that they're bad people.
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Old 10-04-2011, 04:25 PM   #40
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A fair and just Justice system only cares about the convictions and not hypothetical crimes that were "probably" committed because -- look at them! -- you just know that they're bad people.

If they got caught 3 times, chances are good that these are not the only criminal acts they have done. If so, they have been spectacularly unlucky 3 times in a row and probably should re-consider a life of crime. No matter what they look like.
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