Out of sight, out of mind. California’s “Three Strikes” law is based loosely on that very philosophy. When someone is a repeat violator of the criminal justice system, the best solution is to just lock him or her away for a life term without the possibility of parole. We should disregard any of the positive accomplishments these individuals have possibly made to society, their families and their ability to change their lives. Possibly the next step is to simply execute these repeat offenders. Why continue to spend the tax money of hard working Americans to support these criminals? Unfortunately, attitudes like the one just conveyed are too common and are fueling the fire of the “Three Strikes” law. Out of sight, out of mind has never been a sound solution to any problem, and the “Three Strikes” law is not a solution.
The idea of locking up a repeat offender of the criminal justice system for life is incredibly too convenient. As human beings, most of us will respond to nurture and education. When dealing with criminals, this becomes known as rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is not something that always comes on the first try. In a very broad sense, it is like learning how to ride a bicycle. You try, and try again until you eventually are riding smoothly and freely down the street. Of course, you fall off. You might even fall twice, or three times, but eventually you do get it. Alcoholics do not always get sober the first time they attend Alcoholics Anonymous. Very often, it takes several attempts; this means several relapses into their dependency on alcohol. Once they are sober, they need to continue their rehabilitation for life. They need to continue with their weekly meetings and with the interaction of other rehabilitated alcoholics. These are the principals that need to be applied to criminals.
The argument could be made that some crimes do not merit a second chance at freedom or even rehabilitation. This is true. Murderers, rapists, pedophiles and other violent offenders are an exclusive group of criminals who should serve a severe prison sentence. Repeat offenders of these crimes should absolutely be locked away for life. The “Three Strikes” law does not consider this. The circumstances of these offenses are never taken into consideration. Michael Riggs stole twenty dollars worth of vitamins and received a sentence of twenty-five years to life. He also had a criminal record and it was his past offenses not his current one that got him the lengthy sentence. Non-violent offenders need rehabilitation, not permanent captivity.
The underlying idea here is that these criminals need help and rehabilitation at the very first offense. There is no denying that a criminal owes a debt to society and that jail time should be served. Programs need to be set up to rehabilitate criminals the first time they stray from justice. Prison to work programs will also create opportunities for these criminals to be able to find work after prison and have a purpose. A human being can not be put out of sight or out of mind, because we as Americans are not blind nor are we unforgiving.