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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 15, 2009 at 4:00 PM

‘Three-strikes’ reform

Sentencing for repeat offenders often too harsh

Kudos to Dan Satterberg, King County prosecuting attorney, for recognizing the injustices of our “three-strikes” law [“3-strikes offender free: ‘I’m grateful every day,'” front page, June 11] and for promoting clemency for those who deserve it.

Our legislators shelved the bill to reform “three strikes” again this past session. Spending one’s entire life behind bars is certainly “cruel and unusual” punishment when the crime does not warrant such a harsh sentence. Does our Bill of Rights mean nothing? “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.”

How about Washington law, which requires that punishment be proportionate with the seriousness of the crime and commensurate with punishment provided for similar crimes? Punishments meted out should correspond to the crimes committed, not on what someone surmises may or may not happen in the future.

Many people are unnecessarily incarcerated forever with no hope. Their crimes definitely cannot be justified, but they should not be punished by taking away their entire lives.

Although targeted at violent, recalcitrant criminals, “three strikes” has failed in that respect since the majority of those spending life in prison under this law were convicted of lower-level crimes. It has not and will not deter crime, and it absolutely makes a mockery of the concept of reconciliation.

— Tom Martin, Sumner

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