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Three Strikes Law

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Submitted By mayserc
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Article Rebuttal

Unraveling the “Three Strikes law and making it unconstitutional is the primary focus of the Criminal Defense Clinic at Stanford Law School. Its founder Michael Romano States in his article “Striking Back: Using Death Penalty Cases to Fight Disproportionate Sentences Imposed Under California’s Three Strike Law” (2010), his clinic believes the “Three Strikes Law” is unconstitutional and unfair punishment. Our argument we will make the case stating he is using fallacies to strengthen his argument. In California there are no class systems for felonies. Whether or not the felony is violent or not violent, California imposes a harsh sentence. We will give an overview of what “The Three Strikes” law are, the “Death Penalty” and our rebuttal.
California's Three Strikes Law "is a sentencing scheme that adds significant time to the prison sentences of certain repeat offenders convicted of serious or violent felonies." California Criminal Defense Lawyers,(2013). This law "three strikes law" also known as the Three Strike Law, was enacted in California in the 1990s to allow harsher punishments for those that committed felonies more than once and to provide for relief of the crimes themselves. A felony is defined "as a crime that has a greater punishment imposed by statute than that imposed on a misdemeanor" The Felony Law & Legal Definition (2013). Although a violent felony is defined as "a crime consisting of conduct that presents a serious risk of potential injury to another or is punishable by imprisonment for more than one year," The Felony Law & Legal Definition, (2013). Every State has different classifications for a felony offense such as a class A, B, C, D or class one, two, three, and four. Regardless of the type of felony, violent or non-violent a felony is a felony, they both have a perpetrator and a victim. One could argue that depending on the type of felony, such as breaking and entering where no one was home (non-violent) rather than a breaking and entering where someone was home and got hurt by the perpetrator (violent), that the two are different. However, the bottom line is that a felony was still committed, and there was still a victim in each case.
In the paper The Three Strikes Laws the author uses a fallacy known as the Red Herring/Smoke Screen to distract the reader from the main point "the three strike law" by introducing the death penalty into the scenario. Red herring/smoke screen "is a diversionary tactic designed to draw attention away from the real issue" The Red Herring/smoke Screen (2011). The author reverts back to the death penalty several times throughout the paper although his main focus is The Three Strike Law. The death penalty draws issues from taking a life, the cost, and is immoral. The death penalty is not humane, meaning a life can be taken because a certain crime was committed. But what if this person was innocent? The cost of the death penalty runs in the millions or more. Cost can run from pre-trial, trial costs, appeals, habeas corpus petitions, federal appeals, and incarceration fees. Inmate confining is another cost “towards” the death penalty. The cost is another reason the death penalty is an issue. “The death row cost annually is anywhere from $63.3 million annually,” (Death Penalty Information, (2012). The death penalty is seen differently because it is a “final decision.” A choice between life in prison or death is more arbitrary. “The death penalty is an action that the defendant chooses over life in prison,” Brisman, A. (2010). “In an argumentative state death penalty is unfair, immoral, and discriminatory in practice,” Romano, M. (2010). No human being deserves to be killed. However, concerning killers it becomes complicit for those who devalue human life and the dignity of humans in a pro sense of the death penalty the fact is capital punishment that rejoices the pride of a person whose lives ended by the criminal choices. “Death is different,” which is believed by the Criminal Defense Clinic. The fight against the death penalty is hopeless for those that are set on the death penalty under the “Cruel and Unusual Punishment under the Eighth Amendment,” Romano, M. (2010). While we believe in Michael Romano’s argument that the “Death Penalty” is unfair and unjust we are arguing that he is using the fallacy “Begging the Question.” Cheesebro, O’Conner, & Rios (2010) states ‘this is when we ask our audience to accept premises that are as controversial as the conclusion we are arguing for and that are controversial on the same grounds’ ( Chapter 7 p 12). We believe he is using the claim “Death is Different” and the claims about the “Death Penalty” as his premise and is controversial and confusing as his conclusion, which is stating that the “Three Strikes Law” is unconstitutional. Though, Michael Romano, California Criminal Defense Clinic at Stanford Law School, made valid points in his arguments, he is using fallacies like the “Red Herring and “Begging the Question” to make his point. By using these fallacies the validity of his claims “Death is “Different” does not make sense because the “Three Strikes Law” is not death. If California penal code used a class system for felonies Mr. Romano’s argument would support itself as cruel, unusual and disproportional. Death is different and capital punishment is already exceptional and deserving of special rights, resources, and procedures but life in prison under the Three Strikes Law could be reversible as the Death Penalty is not.


Brisman, A. (2010). The Waiver and Withdrawal of Death Penalty Appeals as "Extreme
Communicative Acts". Western Criminology Review, 11(2), 27-41.

California Criminal Defense Lawyers. (2013). Retrieved from

Cheesebro, T., O’Connor, L., & Rios, F. (2010). Communicating in the Workplace. Upper Sadle
River, N.J.: Prentice Hall

Death Penalty Information Center. (2012). Retrieved from Felony Law & Legal Definition. (2013). Retrieved from

Journal Of Social Policy & The Law, 17(2), 257-280.

Red Herring/Smoke Screen. (2011). Retrieved from david/ct/Module09_28_00.html Romano, M. (2010). STRIKING BACK: USING DEATH PENALTY CASES TO FIGHT
STRIKES LAW. Stanford Law & Policy Review, 21(2), 311-348.

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