Reforming the “Three Strikes” Law

News Release: 
Monday, December 7, 2009
Washington's "Three Strikes" law imposes a mandatory life sentence without parole on individuals convicted of any of almost two dozen offenses. The ACLU supports legislation (SB 5292) sponsored by Sen. Adam Kline to remove robbery in the second degree from that list of offenses. An individual can be charged with second-degree robbery even if no weapon is used or no one is injured.


The Three Strikes law does not deter crime, and it disproportionately affects minority offenders. It takes sentencing discretion away from judges, who should be able to consider individual circumstances when imposing sentences. It adds costs to already tight government budgets by incarcerating elderly persons who are not a threat to public safety. Passing the legislation will reduce the number of people who are imprisoned for life out of all proportion to their offenses.

In the 2009 legislature, SB 5292 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee but stalled in the Rules Committee. The ACLU-WA will continue to push for reform of the “Three Strikes” in 2010.