`Three Strikes': a Step Closer to Absurdity

Regarding `` `Three Strikes': a Step Closer to Zero Tolerance of Crime,'' May 2: The ``three strikes'' legislation became law in California on March 8, so I wonder why the author is still trying to justify his regressive, Draconian philosophy.

``Zero tolerance'' is what is practiced in nondemocratic, totalitarian societies. I will not condone burglary, but I cannot accept communist China's answer of a bullet to the back of the head.

The author implies that if a high school student already has two felonies, he or she should be imprisoned for at least 25 years to life. But a little time and money could provide him with the example of a mentor-counselor, a job, and a chance to further his education or learn a trade. The alternative is to spend at least $625,000 on him over the next 25 years so that he can learn from his new role models at our steel university of crime.

As youthful violent crime continues to increase despite the politicians' prison construction program, perhaps more of us will see that pruning an unwanted branch is not the solution to the problem lying deep within the root. Patrick T. O'Connell, Represa, Calif. California State Prison at Folsom

`Three Strikes': a Step Closer to Absurdity

The author of the opinion-page article says that we should not consider some crimes ``more tolerable than others,'' and so favors targeting ``three strikes'' laws broadly rather than narrowly. But he, like almost everyone, has probably committed such crimes as speeding, jaywalking, and illegal parking. That makes him a criminal. I say, three strikes and he's out. Jeff Johnson, San Francisco

No return of single-income family

Although Richard Hokenson offers an interesting theory about why the labor force participation rates of young women have been wobbling since the late 1980s, his theory is unlikely to be accurate (``Young Women Exercise Options,'' May 24).

If, as he argues, the zigzagging labor force participation rates for women ages 20 to 24 is due to a return to the single-income family, one would expect this change to have affected only married women in this age group. But this is not the case. The same wobble is seen among single and divorced women ages 20 to 24 - women who do not have a husband's paycheck to rely on.

There are more likely reasons for the change in labor force participation rates of young women: First, more of these women are opting for continued schooling instead of labor force participation - the number of young adults in school has climbed sharply since 1987. Second, because these young women (and men) were among the least experienced members of the labor force, they were most likelyh)0*0*0*to have their employment prospects frustrated during the recent job slump.

Although many young people - like their older peers - continue to consider the single-earner family the ideal, there is little, if any, evidence that they are any more able than their older brothers and sisters were to turn this wish into reality. Christine D. Keen, Washington

Young and misunderstood

I was thoroughly disgusted by the opinion-page article, ``Generation X Meets a Liberation,'' May 10. I am in my 20s as well, but I do not feel I have to apologize for my generation before making a statement. I remember signing in for selective service when I turned 18. I had to do this to receive Pell grants to go to college. I worked with Amnesty International to secure the release of a prisoner detained by the mass arrests South Africa had in 1987 and '88. I wrote letters to the local newspaper protesting the Gulf war and our involvement in it. Why do I have to hear over and over about ``Generation X'' and how it is so much less than the generation of the '60s? Jean Jones, Wilmington, N.C.

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