Posted by: thescoundrel | January 26, 2008

Davenport Considers Three Strikes Law

I was reading over on the Quad City Times site that Davenport is considering a “three felony strikes and your out” law. Though I do think we need to work on our judicial system problems concerning sentencing and I can see both sides of the three strike law arguments, I am not a big fan of three strike laws, except in cases where three consecutive violent felony crimes are involved. And quite frankly if the crimes were truly violent, why are we waiting for three crimes before we punish harshly? We do need harsh justice in most violent crimes but in my opinion inflexible laws such as three strikes laws create an imbalance of justice. There are pros and cons to each side of the argument. Some arguments can be found at this link1 and link2. But I am not really going to get into the specifics of three strike laws. What really struck me as questionable in the article was the following statement:

The indeterminate life sentence includes a mandatory minimum sentence of 50 years, except that the person may become eligible for parole in one year if they elect to be voluntarily exiled from the state of Iowa, never to return upon penalty of having to serve the rest of the life sentence.

I read in the article that I am not the only person questioning this part of the law. I am not a lawyer, nor did I sleep at the Holiday Inn last night, but the law smells of desertion of judicial responsibility. My actual concerns about the statement go back to when I used to work in Rock Island. One of my former duties used to be removing unwanted individuals from the company where I worked. Most of those people were homeless or transients. Very often that would include involving the police. I was friendly with a couple of the officers at the time and inquired as to what they do with the people they hauled away. I cannot speak for current days, but at that time the RI police and the Davenport police had a rivalry going on where they would take such individuals and dump them across the river on each others turf when the homeless shelters were full up. It made absolutely no sense then nor does it make sense to “exile” criminal individuals to another city/state because they are unwanted by the current city/state they live in. Exiling criminals because the state or city is too cheap to legally handle the problem is playing hot potato! Hot Potato is a kids game and is not an adult way of solving the problem and eventually it will only spur inter state/city rivalry games of shuffle the felon, where nobody wins!

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