The Three-Strikes Law
Three-strikes laws, or habitual offender laws, are statutes enacted by state governments in the United States mandating that state courts impose harsher sentences on offenders who are convicted of three or more serious criminal offenses.
The application and enforcement of three-strikes laws have been unfair to Black people, and the analyses of prison populations reflect this.
In California, the social implications fell disproportionately on African-American men, who constitute only about 3 percent of the state’s population but represent approximately 33 percent of second-strikers and 44 percent of third-strikers among California prison inmates.
In Florida, female offenders were rarely sentenced using three-strikes policies – however, when the females were African-American, they were more likely to be sentenced under habitual offender laws.
When examining the intersectionality between age, race, sex and employment status while controlling for legal factors, young Black and Hispanic males faced greater chances of imprisonment than middle-age White males. Evidence shows that judges would often include stereotypes and characteristics of subgroups to justify application of the three-strikes laws.