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Tough for Whom? A Discussion of the California Three Strikes Law
LUNCH 11:45 a.m.
LECTURE 12:15 p.m.

The passage of California's "Three Strikes and You're Out" sentencing law in 1994 stands out as a pivotal point in the state's war on crime. Viewed as one of the most far-reaching of any such law in the nation, the California statute imposes minimum sentences of 25-years-to-life upon two-time offenders when they are convicted of any third felony.

Professor Jennifer Walsh of California State University, Los Angeles has done extensive research on the California Three-Strikes Law, concluding that it is misunderstood. In her manuscript titled Tough for Whom? How Prosecutors and Judges Use Their Discretion to Promote Justice Under the California Three-Strikes Law (2004), recently published in conjunction with The Henry Salvatori Center, Walsh addresses the debate surrounding the law. She argues that most offenders sentenced under the law committed serious offenses as their third strikes and that the law does not result in lengthy sentences for all eligible three-time recidivists. Only 5% (7,626) of California's prison population, she points out, is composed of three-strike offenders.

Walsh earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in political science from Claremont Graduate University and is currently an assistant professor in the School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics at California State University, Los Angeles. Walsh's appearance at the Athenaeum is part of the series Issues in California Criminal Justice and is sponsored by the Crime and Justice Policy Program of the Henry Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World.