Our criminal justice system is based on the concept that the punishment must fit the crime. Stated another way, the sentence imposed for a particular crime should be proportional to the circumstances of the crime.
The problem? Under Washington’s “Three Strikes” law, which imposes a mandatory life sentence without parole on individuals convicted of any of almost two dozen felony offenses, the crime of Robbery in the Second Degree is one of the listed crimes. An individual can be charged with second-degree robbery even if no weapon is used or no one is injured!
A solution? The ACLU supports the removal of Robbery Second Degree from the list of strike offenses. The bottom line is this: while serious in and of itself, Robbery Second Degree does not rise to the level of being Strike-worthy. When dealing with a potential life sentence, it is simply unjust to include a crime that sweeps so broadly.
Additionally, the “Three Strikes” law does not deter crime, and it disproportionately affects minority offenders. It takes sentencing discretion away from judges, who should be able to consider individual circumstances when imposing sentences. It adds costs to already tight government budgets by incarcerating elderly persons who are not a threat to public safety. Passing the legislation will reduce the number of people who are imprisoned for life out of all proportion to their offenses.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.