In March of 2013, Rolling Stone Magazine ran a scathing indictment of California’s so-called “three strikes law.” The magazine contended that white collar criminals often cause catastrophic damage to their communities but often suffer very little legal punishment. Meanwhile, minorities and people from impoverished backgrounds often find themselves facing decades and even lifelong sentences for crimes as minor as “stealing socks” if that theft was considered a third strike. Thankfully the absurd law that contributed to massive overcrowding in California prisons has been altered. Enthusiastic criticism by Rolling Stone and many others—even many law enforcement officials—led California to alter the law. Now such minor infractions as stealing socks cannot lead to life imprisonment in California. A similar change to the “habitual offender law” in Delaware may be forthcoming. This law—similar to California’s three strikes laws—has led to life-sentences for far too many people.
The News Journal recently reported that the same type of criticism aimed at California’s law may now be having an impact on Delaware. Delaware’s “tough on crime” stance did little to ameliorate the state’s crime problem but it did effectively ruin many peoples’ lives and has contributed to astronomical prison costs. Some of the state’s inmates are serving life-sentences for burglaries, shop lifting and minor drug crimes. Attorney General Matt Denn should be lauded for his recent efforts to have the law changed. Denn has recently stated—publicly—that the law needs to be reviewed and the most damaging sentences should be re-evaluated for those who may have been sentenced under the three strikes law.