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Punishment and Democracy: Three Strikes and You're Out in California (Studies in Crime and Public Policy) Paperback – 13 Nov 2003

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"Zimring, Hawkins, and Kamin have provided a wide-ranging examination of an historic development in the law....But their conclusions about the effectiveness of a law that is unique in 'the extremity of its terms and the revolutionary nature of its ambitions' are sobering and need to be considered by both policy makers and the public." - -CHOICE

"[A] major study of this unique legislation.... [It] is, quite simply, required reading for anyone interested in crime policy in California, the United States in general, or any modern democratic nation....In an area drenched with emotionalism, the authors have produced a study that is analytically incisive in setting up its categories, conscientious in collecting its data, and judicious in reaching its conclusions. It is also highly readable."―Law and Politics Book Review

"Ever since California's 'Three Strikes and You're Out' law was adopted, supporters and opponents have debated its effects on the crime rate and on the criminal justice system with far more heat than light. Now, for the first time, Frank Zimring and his colleagues provide hard data based on careful evaluation of the evidence, amplified by valuable insights into the relationship between punishment policy and the political process. Some of their findings are surprising, and neither side will be entirely pleased with the results, but the authors' meticulous research and well reasoned analysis provide an extremely valuable resource for judging what they aptly describe as "the largest penal experiment in American history."―Joseph Grodin, former Associate Justice, California Supreme Court and John F.DiGardi Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California Hastings College of the Law

"An authoritative and convincing account of how the Three Strikes law came to be, and its impact on crime in California. There is also a wide-ranging discussion of how the law fits in to some larger social phenomena, including the politics of punishment and the way in which levels of trust in government have fallen. This would be a better society, with more just and humane policies, if people in authority read and paid attention to this brilliant, closely-reasoned, and intensely significant book."―Lawrence Friedman, Marion Rice Kirkwood Professor of Law, Stanford Law School

"This book tells two important stories, with authority and clarity. The first is a sobering account of the genesis and impact of California's three strikes law, a cautionary tale of one state's experiment in establishing sentencing policy through direct democracy. On another level, this book raises profound questions about the direction of criminal justice policy in America and provides rich insights and fresh analysis that, if heeded, could guide a return to policies that are both more principled and more practical."―Jeremy Travis, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute and former director of the National Institute of Justice

"This book is an exemplar of criminology, the science of law-making, law-breaking, and law-enforcing. Few criminologists have ever succeeded as well in answering all three questions about such an important legal change. Punishment and Democracy will stand for years as both a substantive and methodological landmark."-Lawrence W. Sherman, Greenfield Professor of Human Relations and Director, Jerry Lee Center of Criminology, University of Pennsylvania

"Reading this book should be penance and a must read for California Governors and legislators, past and present, who helped make this ill-conceived law a reality. [It] should be helpful to public policy makers throughout the United States as they contemplate better crime control measures."-John Van de Kamp, former Attorney General for California

About the Author

Franklin E. Zimring is William G. Simon Professor of Law and Director of the Earl Warren Legal Institute at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of American Youth Violence (Oxford, 1998) and co-author (with Gordon Hawkins) of Crime Is Not the Problem: Lethal Violence in America (Oxford, 1997) and Incapacitation: Penal Confinement and the Restraint of Crime (Oxford, 1995).

Gordon G. Hawkins is a Senior Fellow at the Earl Warren Legal Institute and the former Director of the Institute of Criminology at the University of Sydney.

Sam Kamin is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Denver.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A crucial analysis of a dangerous problem 8 Jan. 2002
By Tom Durkin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I'll be using this analysis for my Public Policy course. Zimring has done a great job, and is again bound to offend the simple & easily offended.

This book describes how one expecially and literally thoughtless program (3 strikes) was made into law, and how a more rational & legally coherent (10-20-life) competing policy was essentially ignored. Combining data, interviews, and relevent social research (i.e. mobilization theory, media effects, pressure groups, legislative lack of backbone by both Repubs & Dems) he shows how not to make public policy.
4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 13 Dec. 2001
By Economist123 - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is an important topic, but the empirical work in this book is at the level of the average newspaper. The work doesn't even take into account that all counties in California didn't follow the rules. What about simultaneously trying to account for arrest rate and conviction rates or changes in any other factors that affect crime?
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