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Editorial: Eliminate three-strikes law

The Supreme Court said Monday that it will review three-strikes laws around the nation, specifically addressing the existing program in California. The three-strikes law is ridiculous and should have never been passed in the first place. Crimes should be given appropriate punishments based on the crime, not the sum total of three.

Mostly during the 1990s, many states adopted three-strikes laws in order to combat increasing crime and to crack-down on repeat offenders. However, the laws were too loosely planned and allow for criminals charged with felonies such as drug possession to be sentenced from 25 years to life in prison.

Currently, in California where the laws are the strictest, people in the past have been sentenced for such terms after shoplifting. In the past, courts have overturned such verdicts on individual bases, but the law still allows for cruel and unusual punishment by sentencing AIDS victims to such long terms, as happened again in California.

However, unlike a previous videotape shoplifter, Gary Ewing’s sentence was upheld because he had four previous charges. In fact, Ewing could have been charged with a misdemeanor, but instead was charged with a felony, thus making the three-strikes law applicable.

Such cases are an abomination of the justice system. Surely, criminals should not be slapped on the wrist or receive no punishment. But each crime should be individually evaluated, and the punishment should be according.

Shoplifters and drug addicts don’t deserve the same prison terms as murderers and other such criminals. The justice system exists to make sure justice is dispensed, not to make sweeping generalizations about how many times crimes are committed. The Supreme Court should understand and acknowledge that by ruling three-strikes laws unconstitutional around the country.