The following is a letter to the editor which I'm submitting to several
newspapers here in the Boston area. I urge you to this week write similar
letters opposing the "Three-Strikes-You're-Out" legislation.
You're welcome to use this letter if you wish (unless you also live in
Here it is:
"Three Strikes You're Out" is Reckless
The controversial "three strikes you're out" proposal in the Senate's Omnibus Crime Bill, now being considered by the House, is a classic case of hot-air filled politicians pretending to be tough, all the while punishing the wrong people and throwing away our hard-earned money without solving the problem. Our nation's prison systems, both federal and state, are already bursting to the limits. Incarceration is expensive -- about $30,000 per year -- throw in geriatric care for elderly prisoners, and this makes any single life sentence a multi- million dollar affair. Mandatory minimum sentencing has forced judges to give irrationally high sentences to people whom even prison officials are saying don't belong in prison. The result is that murderers and rapists often serve less time than nonviolent perpetrators of victimless crimes. And thanks to exploding prison budgets, we can't afford to pay for schooling and health care -- even for the well-behaved.
But the worst problem with three-strikes-you're-out is moral: Many young troublemakers eventually grow up and become productive members of society. Three-strikes will eliminate their chances for redemption, while letting murderers go free. Let's leave sentences up to judges -- tell your congressmen to strike out three-strikes- you're-out.
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