“Three strikes”: Life in prison an excessive sentence


Hannah Delzell

Life in prison. A phrase that would change a life forever. For many law-abiding citizens the phrase represents justice. What if, however, a person is sentenced to life for a felony like robbery? Is that justice?

“Quantal Blake, 29, was convicted on May 28, 2015, of two counts of bank robbery and one count attempted bank robbery,” according to KETV.com

Photo Courtesy of ketv.com
Photo Courtesy of ketv.com

In Nebraska, there is a system in place called the “Three Strikes” law. This law puts a person in prison after that person has committed a felony in three separate instances. As a result, Blake is now facing a mandatory life sentence in prison because he participated in two counts of bank robbery and one count of attempted bank robbery.

The “Three Strikes” law could put the “fear of being caught” in some people, and thus resulting in less crime, but there is not data to back that up. In fact it has been debated whether the “Three Strikes” sentencing law is effective at all.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, in an article opposing the “Three Strikes” law, many violent crimes are not premediated. The crimes typically occur in a moment of anger and the fear of the law does not apply to those who act impulsively.

For someone who has been convicted of rape or other harsh felonies, this type of sentencing is evidently fair. But for Blake? It remains to be seen.

According to KETV, Blake used a stolen vehicle to commit the robbery and in the process hit another car before abandoning the stolen vehicle. It could be argued that putting Blake in prison would keep him off the streets and keep others safe, like the person who he hit with the stolen car.

Blake does deserve to go to prison for what he has done, but not for life. Blake is almost 30 years old and shouldn’t be sentenced for more than 25 years. And even if he is sentenced that full amount he wouldn’t be out until he was a middle-aged man.

Time in prison can change a person, but a life sentence gives Blake no option to right what he has wronged. Criminal activity should never be condoned, but Blake hasn’t physically harmed anyone during his felonies, and thus proving why a life sentence is too harsh of a punishment.

According to Fox 5 news, Julie Harper, a California mother, was sentenced 40 years to life in prison in January of 2016 after intentionally killing her husband. While it is apparent that Harper will unlikely outlive the 40 years, it is astonishing that she didn’t get a life sentence without parole right off the bat. Her husband’s life is lost and now her children are parentless and somehow she isn’t immediately sentenced to life in prison. That is not justice.

There are numerous cases similar to both Blake and Harper. There are people that are serving life sentences for minor offenses and others getting out of jail early after murder or rape convictions. This should not be.

For now it is a law that Nebraska, along with other states, will have to live with. While the “Three Strikes” law proves justice for some people, it demonstrates quite the opposite for others. Crimes and the people involved are situational, but America does not typically run its criminal justice system in a situational manner.

In the end all we can hope for is that justice prevails, but sadly that is not always the case.