Two takes on 'three strikes'
California passed the nation's toughest 'three strikes' law five yearsago. Experts disagree about its effects. Two recent studies show how widelyopinions vary.
BOSTON — According to one by Secretary of State Bill Jones, since the law was passed:
*Violent crime has decreased by 38 percent.
*More than 1 million crimes have been prevented, saving some $21.7 billion in related costs.
*There have been 5,700 fewer murders, 6,900 fewer rapes, 172,000 fewer robberies, 111,200 fewer aggravated assaults, 454,700 fewer burglaries, and 339,100 fewer motor-vehicle thefts.
Another study, by the Justice Policy Institute found no correlation between the drops in crime and the 'three-strikes' law:
*Of the state's 12 largest counties, those that that vigorously enforced the law didn't see a bigger drop in crime than those that didn't.
*San Francisco, the county that most sparingly used 'three strikes,' witnessed a greater decline in violent crime and homicides than counties that enforced it heavily.
*Crime actually increased among the over-30 age group. Proponents had predicted the law would cut crime in this group in particular.