Three Strikes and You're Out: Estimated Benefits and Costs of California's New Mandatory-sentencing Law
The authors report on the benefits and costs of California's new mandatory-sentencing law, which provides for progressively longer sentences with an increasing number of prior convictions for serious felonies. The authors find that the new law, if fully implemented, will decrease serious crime committed by adults by about 28 percent at a cost of an extra $5.5 billion a year. Alternatives that narrow the law's application result in a lower benefit but an even greater reduction in costs. The authors were also able to devise an alternative that resulted in the same crime-reduction benefit for lower cost. The authors conclude that the state budget cuts required to fund the new law will be so great that it is unlikely to be fully implemented.
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HOW THE ANALYSIS WAS DONE
BENEFITS AND COSTS OF THE SENTENCING ALTERNATIVES
FOOTING THE BILL
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20 percent Alternative Law analysis Appendix arrest rate Arson assaults assumptions average benefits and costs billion burglaries crime rate criminal justice system desistance rate Deterrence effect Equations estimated FBI Index Crimes Figure guaranteed-full-term alternative high-rate offenders imprisonment incarcerated population increase jail Jones Jones Jones law Jones Three-Strikes Compared Jones three-strikes law law's legislature low-rate offenders minor felony motor vehicle theft murder NHSDA nominal prison sentence nominal sentence nonindex crimes number of offenders numbers of arrests Offenders on Street offense rates Oral copulation Penal Code Section Percentage plea bargaining Poisson processes previous law prior conviction prior felony conviction Prior Strikes Minor prison costs prison population prison space Proposition 184 Rape recidivism repeat offenders robberies sanctions second-strike Sentencing Law serious crime prevented serious felony serious or violent strikes law Table theft third strike third-strike provision various alternatives violation of Penal violent crimes violent felony Yes Yes Yes