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December 7, 2004 - The Everett Herald (Wa)

Protect Society, But Be Reasonable

Every time I read a sad story like the Nov. 29 article about the 59-year-old grandmother in Vancouver who was stabbed to death at her door by a man with a history of violence, I always think about our three strikes law. We do need to be protected from violence. But I wonder how many people realize that we are paying $26,000. per year to house people in prison for life for only grabbing a wallet on three different occasions. We're spending $1 million in tax money per purse snatcher to lock them up forever. This crime is considered second-degree robbery. It does not involve the use of a weapon and there are no injuries. Still, it is a "strikeable" offense.

We have people with three such offenses who have the exact same sentence as the Green River killer. What does this say about society?

Lea Zengage, Lake Stevens, WA

December 2, 2004 - The Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

Three-Strikes Law Unjust, Expensive

Library cuts are not fair! No one likes to see cutbacks in our important services. At a time when budget crunches are the order of the day and social services are screaming out for funding, we must take the time to look for areas where we are spending needlessly.

Under the current Persistent Offenders Act, a person committing three secind-degree robberies (no weapons, no injuries) will get sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. That means that our tax dollars will be spent to house each three-striker at a rate of $26,000 per year. A 20-year sentence will cost us about a half million dollars and a life sentence will cost us about $1 million. This cost increases threefold when that person attains 55 years of age..

Attempted crimes are also counted and assessed as completed crimes, thus strikes. I suggest that we think about what we are doing and why we are doing this.

A huge percentage of our Washington's three-strikers have second-degree robbery and attempted second-degree robbery as their strikes. We do not need to spend this money. It would be much better spent on those desperately needed social services.

We must support changes to the expensive, unjust three-strikes law.

Shirley M. White, Walla Walla, WA.

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