Punishment and Democracy: Three Strikes and You're Out in California / Edition 1

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $2.13
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 98%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (14) from $2.13   
  • New (5) from $37.42   
  • Used (9) from $2.13   


"Getting tough on crime" has been one of the favorite rallying cries of American politicians in the last two decades, and "getting tough" on repeat offenders has been particularly popular. "Three strikes and you're out" laws, which effectively impose a 25-years-to-life sentence at the moment of a third felony conviction, have been passed in 26 states. California's version of the "three strikes" law, enacted in 1994, was broader and more severe than measures considered or passed in any other state.

Punishment and Democracy is the first examination of the actual impact this law has had. Franklin Zimring, Sam Kamin, and Gordon Hawkins look at the origins of the law in California, compare it to other crackdown laws, and analyze the data collected on crime rates in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco in the year before and the two years after the law went into effect. They show that the "three strikes" law was a significant development in criminal justice policy making, not only at the state level, but also at the national level. They conclude with an examination of the trend toward populist initiatives driving penal policy.

The importance of the subject and the stature of the authors make this book required reading for policy analysts, criminal justice scholars, elected officials, and indeed any American seeking to know more about "get-tough" criminal sentencing.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[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

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet 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 S. Kamin is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction ix
Part I Origins and Structure
1 Three Strikes Comes to California 3
2 The Largest Penal Experiment in American History 17
Part II The Study
3 Building a Research Design 31
4 The Role of Recidivists in Urban California Crime 41
5 The Impact of Three Strikes on Criminal Punishment 63
6 Three Strikes as Crime Control 85
Part III Impacts
7 The Jurisprudence of Imprisonment in California 109
8 Living with Three Strikes: Courts, Corrections, and the Political Process 125
Part IV Implications
9 The Changing Politics of Criminal Punishment 151
10 Democracy and the Governance of Criminal Punishment 181
11 Legacies and Lessons 217
References 233
Index 239
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)