Time out on `three strikes'

BASEBALL metaphors make bad laws. Legislation giving criminals ``three strikes and you're out'' is a grand illusion. It promises to make the rest of us safe from violent crime. But it cannot.... Here's the muddle: Because the [California] bill makes no distinction between violent offenses and other serious felonies such as burglary, a defendant never convicted of a violent crime can be sentenced to prison for life. The cost of ``three strikes'' is likewise hazy - $3 billion extra each year in a ballpark figure for more prisons, more guards, and bigger operations.

Uncertain consequences of ``three strikes'' suggest strongly we should take our time, think hard, and consider options.

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