A Whittier cop was killed last week. A Palm Springs cop was killed three months ago. These crimes were avoidable. We, as a state, are paying the price for our own foolishness. Our crime rate is rising, after 20 years of falling. Violent felonies are rising, after 20 years of falling. Minor crime is out of control. Store owners will tell you it is impossible to get anyone to protect their property from petty thieves. After years of record decreases in crime, we are watching it rise again. Police are paying a price, and people are starting to fear again.
Very simple. I had a small role in the passage of three strikes in 1994. We had one simple principle — if someone committed two serious or violent felonies, the third felony, no matter what it was, was a basis for removing the criminal from society for his or her entire life. Why should we wait for a third victim of a serious or violent felony? Why should one more person suffer at the hands of someone who refused to conform to the rules of civil life, that is, don’t hurt or steal from your neighbor? With its passage, we saw a 50% drop in crime in a year, after 35 years of increasing crime rates.
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the liberals with the passage of that three strikes law. They immediately attacked it. The first story was the “pizza thief,” some guy in Los Angeles that got put in jail for “stealing a pizza.” Of course, what they didn’t mention is that this guy had been convicted of two armed robberies, mayhem, attempted murder, and he stole the pizza by threatening a 10 year old boy that he would kill the boy’s mother if he didn’t give him the pizza.
Another victory for three strikes — remember the guy in the 1970′s who cut off the arms and legs of the woman in San Diego, and left her for dead? He got out of prison because she didn’t die. However, he got out after three strikes passed, and he moved to Florida. In Florida, he stole a camera and a baseball hat. Under California’s three strikes law, he would be in prison for life for those thefts. In Florida, he was on probation. His next crime — murdering his innocent neighbor. Another person had to die to put this guy in prison for the rest of his life, but at least it wasn’t a Californian.
The liberals never liked that three strikes law. They undermined it at every turn. They reduced felonies to misdemeanors to make sure people couldn’t get life sentences. They refused to build prisons, and then started letting bad guys go, under the theory that they were “nonviolent.” So nonviolent that two of them murdered a cop. People are dead, good people, because the leftists in Sacramento would rather protect bad people than normal people living by the rules and raising their families.
The purpose of incarceration is not to rehabilitate, it is not to punish, it is not to deter future criminals. It is to put a bad person in a place where he or she can’t hurt the rest of us until that person decides, on their own, not to hurt anyone anymore. Statistics tell us that about 85% of the crimes are committed by young men between the ages of 18 and 25. If the criminal is let out of prison before the age of 25, the chance of recidivism is about 90%. Between the ages of 25 and 30, the chance of recidivism falls to 50%. After 30, that recidivism rate falls to 2%. I don’t know why that is, but we know that if we catch a bad guy once and hold him until after 25, we are 50% safer. After 30, we are 98% safer. If that guy continues to commit crimes after 30, he is likely incorrigible, and needs to spend his life in prison, not for him, but for us, to make us safer. That was the theory behind three strikes.
Liberals think that criminals are good people corrupted by a bad society. Fix society, give them welfare, job training, education, etc., etc., etc. and they will be better. Could be, I don’t know. But letting them out of prison before they decide to be good makes me, my family, and my neighbors unsafe. Put them in prison first, and keep them there until they decide to live by the rules, then see if they become good citizens by learning a skill or profession. If they don’t, put them back, and keep them there. My life, and the life of my family and neighbors, is not worth the risk of social experiments that to date have not worked on enough people. Our cops need better, we need better, than what the left has been giving us. I just hope too many people don’t die before the voters figure this out.