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Case Study: Is the U.S. criminal justice system too lenient?

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The murder of 12-year old Polly Klaas by a paroled felon in 1993 led Californian votes to approve an initiative, three-strikes laws that mandated prison terms of 25-years-to-life for defendants convicted of a third felony. The law also doubled minimum terms for second time offenders.

The state of Washington adopted a three strikes law in 1993, and 22 other states have followed suit. Congress passed a federal version of this act in 1994.

Is the U.S. criminal justice system too lenient? Why?

Is legislation such as the three strikes laws required? Why?

What are possible negative implications of the laws such as the three strikes laws? Why?

Three recent examples where the U.S. criminal justice system was too tough or lenient. Explain why you think the criminal justice system was too tough or lenient in these cases.

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Is the U.S. criminal justice system too lenient? Why?

The U.S. criminal justice system is not too lenient nor is it fair or equal. When attempting to ascertain whether leniency is being displayed in the U.S. criminal justice system no one needs to look further than the draconian drug laws that are a staple of this system destroying millions of lives each year. Each year parents, sons, daughters, and neighborhoods are decimated by a system that nets out harsh and long sentences for people convicted of drug offenses with 90% or more being non-violent. This has been the paradigm since the inception of the Rockefeller era in New York when the administration began to issue out long sentences for offenses dealing with heroin. Other states soon followed suit and during the height of the alleged "crack epidemic" the U.S. congress passed legislation that mandated that people caught with small amounts of this drug receive exorbitant sentences that are not lenient by any stretch of the imagination.

This question is subjective to the interpretation of the individual analyzes the issue and this is only my personal observation of the current non-lenient sentencing structure for drug offenses

Is legislation such as the three strikes laws required? Why?

Three strikes laws are only acceptable in my own opinion when the ...

Solution Summary

This solution gives reasons why the United States criminal justice system is unequal, non-lenient and unfair. Different areas such as 3 strike laws and drug laws are discussed within the solution.

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Outline issues that currently face the juvenile justice system. Compare these with previous issues faced by juvenile justice during the past twenty years. Has the juvenile justice system improved over the years? Recall recent legislation that impacts juvenile justice. Does this legislation support or hinder improvements in the juvenile justice system?

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