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Arizona Enacts Three Strikes Law, Again

The Arizona Legislator and Governor have continued exploiting the ?get tough on poor criminals? bandwagon, enacting SB 1444, in April, 2006, a law that requires a life sentence for any person convicted of a third violent felony. That law prohibits ?suspension of sentence, probation, pardon, or release on any basis except that the person may be eligible for commutation after the person has served at least thirty-five years.?

The law applies to any person convicted of a violent felony with two previous violent felony convictions from separate incidents. The law does prohibit inclusion of convictions on the same day or from the same series of an incident. It includes as violent felonies crimes of murder, assault, rape, arson, and robbery. It also counts convictions from another state within a fifteen year period, excluding incarceration time.

The most famous three strike law is California?s, which requires a life sentence for conviction of any three felonies. By 2004, nearly 43,000 California prisoners (more than one quarter of the states entire prison population), were serving sentences under that state?s three-strikes law. Washington state enacted the first three strikes law in 1993. Arizona had previously enacted a three strikes law, as well.

Critics argue that such laws hold prisoners beyond the years they are likely to reoffend and victimize people. The result is warehousing elderly prisoners, saddling taxpayers with the cost of feeding, housing and medically caring for them. For proponents of the prison industrial complex, its just another cog to expanding the business.

Source: The Arizona Republic; Arizona Senate Bill 1444

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