ACRU

ACLU Opposes Three-Strikes Law

Connecticut is seeking to tighten its three-strikes law, under which violent felons on their third conviction should be sentenced to life without parole. The Connecticut law has a loophole. If the criminal pleads guilty to his latest felony, the judge may never see or consider his prior convictions. The brother of a woman murdered 23 years ago, is seeking to get that changed concerning the man who murdered his sister. The ACLU, as usual, is opposed to an effective three-strikes law.

The facts for this article, but not the legal conclusions, come from an article in the Bristol Press, in Connecticut, on 9 August, 2008. The article concerns a man who is honoring the memory of his murdered sister by leading a campaign for an three-strikes law in that state.

Greg Camillieri’s sister, Perry Krull, was murdered 28 years ago, when she was 31. From the description in the article, she was a fine and loving woman. She was murdered by Martin Hammond, who was sentenced to 45 years in prison. Hammond was let out on probation in August, 2003, because of “good behavior” days earned..

He then violated his probation by threatening to kill his probation officer. But instead of being sentenced to serve the remainder of his original sentence, Hammond was sentenced to only four years in prison.

The reason that the three-strikes law would apply, if used, is that Hammond had been sentenced to just two years in prison for the 1982 rape of a 15-year-old girl. Had the three-strikes law that Connecticut already has, been applied, Hammond would now have gone to jail for life without parole.

Three-strikes laws vary from state to state, and not all states have them. In general, they require that any criminal who is convicted of his third major felony, MUST be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The reason for the light sentence is that most criminal cases are plea-bargained, in Connecticut as in other states. In Connecticut, however, if the defendant pleads guilty, apparently the court is either not informed of the three-strikes law, or is free to disregard it. Both problems would be dealt with by the proposed tightening of the law.

The ACLU opposes three strikes laws wherever they are proposed in any state. The ACLU of Connecticut has spoken out against an enhanced three-strikes law, saying it is “likely to increase the racial disparity” in the state’s prisons and could bring costs that run into the millions of dollars.

There are actually four racial disparities in American prisons. Americans of Asian descent are seriously underrepresented in prisons, compared to their proportions in the populations of each state. Americans of Caucasian descent are about equal to their proportion. Those of Hispanic descent are higher than their proportion. Those of African descent are even higher in their proportion.

There is also the point that illegal aliens are higher than any of those groups, but that is not today’s subject.

As for the fact that it costs more money to incarcerate more prisoners, or the same number of prisoners for longer sentences, that is quite true. But hardened criminals, like those that three-strikes laws are written for, are repetitious. As long as they are on the street they will be committing multiple crimes per year. In its objection, the ACLU ignores both the economic and personal costs of crimes committed by career criminals if left on the streets.

An online petition in support of an enhanced three-strikes law in Connecticut has garnered 40.000 signatures. Its sponsor, Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Sam Caligiuri, said, “The one thing that will defeat this proposal over time is if we stop pushing for it. Just putting one or two away could save some families untold misery or horror.”

The article ends with this comment from Greg Camillieri about his sister, “I always thought we were going to grow old together, and it didn’t happen. It’s like a part of me went with her. I don’t want her to be forgotten after 23 years.”

Source for original story on the Net:

http://www.bristolpress.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19902033&BRD=1643&PAG=461&dept_id=665528&rfi=6