Justice Works! 3-Strikes campaign raises public awareness and political energy for reform or repeal of Washington's 3-Strikes law and in support of programs and investments demonstrated to make communities safer for lower fiscal and social cost. (1)
Washington was the first state in the nation to pass a 3-Strikes law. Voters approved I-593 in 1993 on promises that it would forever protect society from its "most violent" members.
The law has failed. Research shows that it is associated with marginal reductions in property crimes, negative impacts on violent crime, and high social and fiscal costs. (2)
The 3-Strikes promise was empty from the start. Most 3-Strikes convictions are for less serious crimes. Of approximately 280 people now serving life sentences under the law, approximately 200, or about two thirds, have sentences relying on 1 or more convictions for crimes in the very lowest quartile of Washington's 16-level scale of seriousness at RCW 9.94A.515.
In 2001, Washington's Sentencing Guidelines Commission (SGC) recommended removing Robbery 2 and some forms of Assault 2 from the 3-Strikes list. This report can be read on the SGC's older publications page. For years, Washington legislators have introduced bills to do this. All bills have so far failed.
See more on the campaign at JUSTICE WORKS!.
These stories have been shared by 3-Strikers in collaboration with Justice Works! 3-Strikes reform campaign. They show by concrete example why the law is unjust and ineffective. The life paths described here all include one or more factors of poverty, addiction, childhood abuse, or mental illness. Programs addressing these factors have been shown to reduce crime at much less cost than incarceration alone. (2) Each person here was represented by a public defender. Washington public defense has been shown to be inadequate. (3, 4) Many 3-Strikes defendants receive inadequate defense.
- A 3-Strikes Story: Abusive Foster Care, Deadly Streets, Broken Public Defense. WE CAN DO BETTER!, by Noemie Maxwell, 9/16/08
- Cherease Cross: Kind, Beautiful, and Caring, She Deserved a Better Chance, by Shirley White, 8/26/08
DAILYKOS (this diary was "rescued" by the site's editors and linked to from the front page)
- Abuse of Discretion: Life Without Parole for Door Mat Burning, by Steven Darby McDonald, 6/30/06.
HORSES ASS (Your Tax Dollars at Work)
- Freedom Culminating: Life Sentences Require Evidence Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, by Theodore Rhone with input from Frank Banks, Spencer Carter, and Anthony Jones, 6/10/08.
- Life Sentence at 21 for No-Weapon No-Injury Crimes, by David Conyers, 5/25/08.
DAILYKOS (This story was voted by readers onto the recommended list)
- National Significance of Washington's 3-Strikes Law, by Noemie Maxwell, 4/6/08.
- Three-Strikes Guest Post: I am not a Disposable Human Being, Ronald Peters, 3/27/08.
- Imprisoned for life in WA for an attempted wallet grab, by Al-Kareem Shadeed, 1/15/08.
- To Those Who Have Shown Notice to Cruel and Unconstitutional Laws in Washington State, by Joseph Scott Wharton, 1/1/08
- Guest post from WA State Reformatory: These crimes do not merit life imprisonment, by Stevan Dozier, 12/30/07
- INTRODUCE THIS! Submitting Resolutions at WA's Presidential Caucuses (3-Strikes Reform)
Noemie Maxwell, 12/30/07.
- Life in prison without parole for low-violence crimes: can Washington find redemption?
Noemie Maxwell, 12/11/07.
- An effort to get politicians focused on needed sentencing reforms
Douglas A. Berman, 1/13/08
This series was noted on: SENTENCING LAW AND POLICY
- Washington State Democratic Party 3-Strikes Resolution, 2008
3-STRIKES RESOLUTION #31
- SIGN IN SHEET SUPPORTING 3-STRIKES REFORM
- WHO HAS SPOKEN?: (WORD) (PDF)
Washingtonians speak on 3-Strikes: judges, prosecutors, scholars, and experts in sentencing and corrections.
- 3-STRIKES: EMPTY PROMISES:(WORD) (PDF)
3-Strikes promised certainty and safety. The law makes justice less certain and puts the public at greater risk.
- WASHINGTON 3-STRIKERS: (WORD) (PDF)
Images and stories of 9 Washington 3-Strikers
- ROBBERY 2 & ASSAULT 2: MOST SERIOUS?(WORD) (PDF)
The most common trigger for a life sentence under 3-Strikes is Robbery 2. Assault 2 is also one of the most common 3-Strikes convictions. These crimes are in the very bottom quartile of seriousness in Washington's criminal code. They carry a standard sentence of 3 months to 7 years.
- DID YOU KNOW: (WORD) (PDF)
- POWERPOINT PRESENTATION
JUSTICE IS NO GAME
We can mail you a "kit" for this poster -- everything but the display board and glue/scissors, etc. Or you can do the print-outs yourself. The pull-down menu below contains links to WORD and PDF versions of most of the elements show in the photo.
Click on the WORD or PDF file below to download those poster elements. The standard size paper for the seriousness scale and center title require cutting and pasting. The small logo is on standard sized paper and should be used only when it's not possible to print out the large logo. With advance notice, all of this can be printed out and sent to you.
- For example, see Evidence-Based Public Policy Options to Reduce Future Prison Construction, Criminal Justice Costs, and Crime Rates, 2006 October. Steve Aos, Marna Miller, Elizabeth Drake. #06-10-1201, Washington State Institute for Public Policy
- For example, "Impacts of “Three Strikes and You’re Out”on Crime Trends in California and Throughout the United States Elsa Y. Chen Santa Clara University, Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 2008, concludes that the effects of 3-Strikes on crime in California, which where approximately 100,000 people are serving under the law, are "mostly undetectable" and not different from the effects measurable in states, such as Washington, with many fewer 3-Strikes convictions. The author cites "tremendous monetary and social costs" and concludes that "the toughest sentencing policy is not necessarily the most effective option."
- The Unfulfilled Promise of Gideon, Washington State ACLU, 2004
Overview of the Clark County, Washington Indigent Defense System in 2002. Prepared for the Board of Clark County Commissioners on behalf of the American Bar Association, Bar Information Program; December 2002.