3-strikes law is better than 4 balls
WOULDN'T you know it? I make fun of state legislators last week for being a bunch of ineffectual bozos, and they turn around and pass a very tough "three-strikes" anti-violent crime bill just to make me feel bad.
The governor signed the bill into law which would send three-peat violent offenders to between 30 years and life in prison, instead of the previous punishment, which I believe was 45 minutes in a comfy chair.
It's been a standing rule in Hawaii that you have to kill at least two people before you get any serious jail time. (Note: "Serious jail time" being weekends in prison with only basic cable service allowed.)
The three-strikes law means that anyone who is convicted of three violent crimes will effectively be taken off the streets for the rest of their ambulatory life. It's really an amazing concept when you think about it: Put people who hurt and kill other people behind bars so that people who don't hurt and kill people can walk around without worrying about being hurt or killed. Why it took so long for lawmakers to realize that it's better to have predators locked up than walking among us, I don't know. But it's a good thing, so we shouldn't find fault.
Two more things should be done to take advantage of the three-strikes law: 1) Publicize the hell out of it so that we don't hear a bunch of whining when some idiot strikes out ("I didn't know about the three-strikes thing! Call that one high and outside and give me one more swing of the bat!") and 2) charge offenders with a crime after their first arrest, not their 47th, which is the historical way of doing things here. We have criminals in this state with arrest records as long as their arms, legs and as their arms, legs and torsos put together, but they don't get charged until they accidentally beat someone up on the steps of the Capitol or at the Police Department receiving desk.
I'm also particularly glad that we passed a "three strikes and you're out" law instead of some of the less effective and lesser-known sports metaphor-related anti-crime laws.
Here are a few of those that we luckily didn't institute here:
Foot Fault Law:
If you "step over the line," (as you might while serving in a game of tennis) and commit a violent crime using a tennis racket, the offense is considered a "fault," and you are allowed one more offense before you are arrested. If you "double fault," you are taken to a higher court, where a line judge will ask you politely to behave.
Fourth and Long Law:
The football-genre-related law allows offenders to commit four violent offenses before facing long sentences. If, during their fourth offense, however, they undergo a "Hail Mary" -- religious conversion -- they may be allotted four more offenses by a judicial referee.
Free Kick Law:
A largely pointless law enacted in various Vermont suburbs, the Free Kick Law allows victims of crimes to kick soccer balls at their attackers' private parts.
Ten Count Rule:
Considered a breakthrough in criminal justice several years ago, it specified that if a victim of a crime lay on the ground for at least 10 seconds after a vicious physical assault, the criminal would be arrested and taken to jail. If the victim got up after less than 10 seconds, police were required to let the assault continue until either the assaulter or assaultee went down for the count. The Ten Count Rule taught victims to "stay down" instead of attempting to fight back and infuriate their attacker even more.
Base on Balls Law:
Though not as well known at the Three Strikes Law, this law enforcement tool is directed at really inept criminals who fail to commit a serious crime after four tries. If the offender commits two violent crimes but fails in his attempt at three others, he is said to have a "full count," and released on his on recognizance until the outcome of his next criminal attempt is known. If the criminal act is completed, he is sentenced to life in prison. If he screws it up, he is sent to Vermont, where a busload of soccer moms kick balls at his private parts.
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail email@example.com