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3-Strikes Law

Is a sentence of life in prison for stealing $50 worth of videotapes constitutional? Be sure to give examples.

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Dear Student,
Hello and thank you for using Brainmass. Now at first read it may seem that the $50 value attached to the videotapes makes the crime petty and in the US constitutionally, Life Imprisonment with or without parole (dependent on the statutes of the states that impose them if the decision is not by courts with a Federal mandate) are only handed down on criminals who have done serious and heinous crime. Life Imprisonment as a form of rehabilitation and approach against deviance and crime gained its 'available for parole after 10 years upon good behaviour' policy since the late 19th century due to the philosophy of rehabilitation and issues with regards to prison budgets and role of the State upon order. A number of years in prison is not only about 'paying debts to society' but also a form of 'rehabilitation', of 'stamping out deviance' in the deviant to prepare them once more to become productive social members.

Serious/Violent Crime

However, to be given a life prison sentence, there is that condition of serious and heinous crime - heinous if they fall under violent crime headings (murder, homicide, rape, assault, robbery) and serious if they fall under certain elements of property crime headings (larceny, theft, arson). Also, there is a judgement as to the seriousness and affect of the crime committed. If it is a teen stealing $100 worth of clothes ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides a comprehensive discussion on the constitutionality of the 3-strikes law in relation to the gravity of the crime. Heinous, serious and petty crime is discussed as well as the impact and meaning of the 3-strikes law. References are listed for expansion/further research. Examples of cases are also included in the narrative. A word version of the solution is attached for easy printing.