Research by a University of California, Riverside criminologist has found that the 3-strikes law has done nothing to reduce the crime rate.
Sociology professor Robert Nash Parker determined that crime has been decreasing at about the same rate in every state for 20 years, regardless of whether three-strikes policies are in place or not.
Parker's findings appear in the paper "Why California's 'Three Strikes' Fails as Crime and Economic Policy, and What to Do," published in the California Journal of Politics and Policy.
California's three-strikes law imposes a minimum sentence of 25 years to life on the third felony conviction for offenders with prior serious or violent felony convictions.
"There is not a single shred of scientific evidence, research or data to show that three strikes caused a 100 percent decline in violence in California or elsewhere in the last 20 years," Parker said, adding that researchers who have examined crime in California cities and counties since the legislation took effect have reached similar conclusions.
According to Parker, when alcohol consumption increases, violent crime follows one or two years later, and that when alcohol consumption decreases, the crime rate drops one to two years later.
And unemployment is a lesser, but influential factor, in the rise and fall of crime rates, Parker's research found.
"These findings are consistent with a growing body of research that demonstrates the important relationship between alcohol and violence in the U.S.," Parker said. "There is no justification for continuing three strikes from a violence prevention point of view. In fact, this analysis suggests that alcohol policy designed to reduce overall consumption in California may be more effective at reducing violence than three strikes and/or other criminal justice policy initiatives."