Topics in the News: Three Strikes

Rand Paul on Drugs : Mar 24, 2013
Don't promote marijuana but don't jail non-violent criminals

Q: You would like to relax some of the laws for people who possess and are smoking marijuana, and synthetic recreational drugs. Why?

PAUL: The main thing I've said is not to legalize them but not to incarcerate people for extended periods of time. With Senator Leahy, we have a bill on mandatory minimums. There are people in jail for 50 years for nonviolent crimes. And that's a huge mistake. Our prisons are full of nonviolent criminals. I don't want to encourage people to do it. Marijuana takes away your incentive to work. I don't want to promote that but I also don't want to put people in jail who make the mistake. There are a lot of young people who do this and then later on, they get married and they quit; I don't want to put them in jail and ruin their lives. The last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use, and it would have ruined their lives. They got lucky, but a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don't get lucky.

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: Fox News Sunday 2013 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Mitt Romney on Crime : Mar 2, 2012
Romney side-by-side against Gingrich, Paul & Santorum

Q: Is there any issue where Romney differs from all three other GOP frontrunners?

A: Yes, on gun control--Mitt is the odd man out from Gingrich, Paul, and Santorum calling for Second Amendment rights. Mitt does toe the conservative line on most crime issues, including capital punishment and mandatory sentencing--and on "Three Strikes", he's more of a hard-line conservative than Gingrich and Santorum! See the details on crime, gun control, and numerous other related issues in a side-by-side comparison:

Romney/Paul/Santorum/Gingrich side-by-side on Domestic Issues

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Paperback: Romney/Paul/Santorum/Gingrich side-by-side

Mike Huckabee on Crime : Sep 27, 2007
Nonsense of Three-Strikes makes system overrun with people

Q: What policy would you support to guarantee young Black and Latino men a fairer equal justice system?

A: We really don’t have so much a crime problem in this country. We have a drug and alcohol problem. We’ve got to quit locking up all the people that we’re mad at and lock up the people that we’re really afraid of, the people who are sexual predators and violent offenders. But the nonsense of three strikes and you’re out has created a system that is overrun with people, and the cost is choking us

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University

Mitt Romney on Drugs : Aug 31, 2007
Mandatory sentence & higher penalty for repeat drunk driving

In 2003, 13-year-old Melanie Powell was walking to the beach with a friend when she was killed by a drunk driver. It soon came to light that the driver was a repeat offender. In 2003 Massachusetts drunk driving laws--some of the weakest in the nation-- undoubtedly contributed to the frequency of senseless accidents.

Romney proposed “Melanie’s Bill” to crack down on drunk drivers. The bill called for higher penalties and mandatory sentences for repeat offenders. It increased license suspensions for people who knowingly allowed someone to use an automobile if he or she had a suspended license from drunk driving. It required that cars from arrested drivers be impounded. Also, vehicles of repeat offenders had to be equipped with ignition interlock systems, which wouldn’t allow cars to start unless the driver passed a Breathalyzer test.

Within a year of the new law, repeat offender arrests had been cut in half. The number of arrested drivers with prior drunken-driving convictions dropped 17%.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: The Man, His Values, & His Vision, p. p.36-37

Hillary Clinton on Crime : Jun 28, 2007
Mandatory sentences have been too widely used

    We have to do all of these things:
  1. We do have to go after racial profiling. I’ve supported legislation to try to tackle that.
  2. We have to go after mandatory minimums. You know, mandatory sentences for certain violent crimes may be appropriate, but it has been too widely used. And it is using now a discriminatory impact.
  3. We need diversion, like drug courts. Non-violent offenders should not be serving hard time in our prisons. They need to be diverted from our prison system.
Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University

Mike Huckabee on Crime : Jan 4, 2007
Three Strikes based more on revenge than restoration

Americans went through a period of permissiveness in the 1970s. Some advocated that criminals really were not bad people, but just individuals who were themselves victims of either poverty or lack of education. Those who believed in such a view typically favored counseling over incarceration, but rising crime rates and a demand of the public made it clear that “coddling criminals” is a terribly failed idea.

In the 1990s, the pendulum swung harshly back in the opposite direction and very popular policies such as “three strikes and you’re out” and “no parole provisions” were adopted.

Being tough on crime is certainly more popular than being soft, but America needs to be careful that in our attempt to stoutly enforce our laws and protect our citizens, we do not end up with a system that is based more on revenge than restoration. A revenge-based criminal justice system seeks to measure out as harsh a judgement as is possible so as to satisfy the natural inclination to get even.

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 87

Mike Bloomberg on Crime : Dec 7, 2006
Mandatory minimum sentencing for gun crimes

Mayor Bloomberg announced the launch of a subway ad campaign that warns about the increase in the mandatory minimum sentence for illegal possession of a loaded handgun. Backed by Mayor Bloomberg, this legislation passed in June. “Illegal guns don’t belong on our streets and we’re sending that message loud and clear,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We’re determined to see that gun dealers who break the law are held accountable, and that criminals who carry illegal loaded guns serve serious time behind bars.
Click for Mike Bloomberg on other issues.   Source: Mayoral office press release PR-428-06

Mitt Romney on Crime : Mar 21, 2002
Favored mandatory sentencing and three strikes

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Boston Globe review of 1994 campaign issues

Jeb Bush on Drugs : Nov 7, 2001
Mandatory prison sentences for drug offenses

Click for Jeb Bush on other issues.   Source: Governor’s web site,, “Initiatives”

Jeb Bush on Gun Control : Nov 7, 2001
Use a Gun and You’re Done

Click for Jeb Bush on other issues.   Source: Governor’s web site,, “Initiatives”

Gary Johnson on Drugs : Apr 9, 2001
War on Drugs is a miserable failure; $6M for treatment

California and Arizona have gone the furthest in decriminalizing non-violent drug use, raising the issue’s profile nationally and spurring about 10 other states this year to consider a similar philosophical shift. Arguing that the multibillion-dollar drug war has been a failure, legislatures in New York, Hawaii, Arkansas, and elsewhere are considering revisions to mandatory sentence laws for low-level drug offenders and may provide millions of dollars to drug diversion programs.

Last month, the New Mexico legislature approved five drug bills proposed by Republican Gov. Gary Johnson, an ardent supporter of decriminalizing drugs. Included in the package are measures that will allocate $6 million to expand treatment services, legal protections for syringe sales, and restoring voting rights for felons who have served their time. “The war on drugs is a miserable failure,” Johnson said. “50% of the money for prisons and courts is spent on drugs. What we’re doing isn’t working.”

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: V. Dion Haynes, Chicago Tribune, p. 6

Jesse Ventura on Crime : Jul 2, 2000
Opposes “Three Strikes”; leave discretion to judges

I’m against legislation that puts the state or federal government on the position of caring for somebody for life for trivial reasons. That’s why I’m opposed to the Three Strikes law, as it’s now written. We should be prosecuting felons severely the firs time around. If somebody has done a violent crime and served his time, you don’t then put him away forever for stealing cookies. Mandatory sentences are awful. They take power away from judges. Judges should be allowed a certain amount of discretion. They should be able to treat each case individually.

Three Strikes would work fine if it put people away for three violent felonies. But it’s a stupid waste of taxpayers’ money otherwise. Plus, it causes a backup in our court system, because nobody who gets caught a third time wants to plead guilty and face certain life in prison. Legislators love tough-sounding programs like Three Strikes; unfortunately, it makes them look good at campaign time, but it causes us more problems afterwards.

Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.157-8

Jeb Bush on Crime : Jul 2, 1998
Stricter penalties for drug, sex, & gun offenses

Click for Jeb Bush on other issues.   Source: 1998 Florida National Political Awareness Test

Jeb Bush on Principles & Values : Jul 2, 1998
Priorities: public education & public safety

As governor, I would work to restore public education and public safety as the two most important priorities of state government. Our education plan would fully fund education, create financial incentives for all public schools that show improvement, improve accountability through higher standards and strengthen school safety. On the crime front, we have a comprehensive strategy for reducing the prevalence of drugs in Florida and would implement strict mandatory sentences for criminals who use guns.
Click for Jeb Bush on other issues.   Source: 1998 Florida National Political Awareness Test

Newt Gingrich on Drugs : Dec 26, 1994
Mandatory minimum for drug & gun crimes

The Taking Back Our Streets Act establishes a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for state or federal drug or violent crimes that involve possession of a gun. Penalties increase to 20 years for a 2nd conviction and life in prison for a 3rd. For those who discharge a firearm with intent to injure another person, the 1st offense is punishable by a minimum of 20 years in prison, 2nd offenses are punishable by a minimum of 30 years, and 3rd violations get life in prison.

Finally, possession or use of a machine gun or other destructive device during the commission of these crimes is punishable for no less than 30 years. Second time offenses are punishable by life in prison.

Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: Contract With America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 47

Newt Gingrich on Gun Control : Dec 26, 1994
Federal enforcement options for state gun crimes

Myth: The proposed legislation that requires mandatory minimum sentences for the use of a gun during the commission of a state or federal felony is intrusive on states rights and will overwhelm the federal courts with thousands of new cases. It essentially federalizes all gun crimes.

Fact: The proposed legislation provides prosecutors with the OPTION of taking a state gun crime to the federal courts--it doesn't require it. This provision gives overburdened state and local law enforcement access to tougher federal tools including mandatory sentences and a functioning prison system that guarantees truth-in-sentencing. America's worst violent criminals can be taken into the federal system, where they will be more likely to serve a full prison sentence and will be less likely to be released early, back onto the streets to commit more deadly crimes.

Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: Contract With America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 60-61

Mitt Romney on Welfare & Poverty : Nov 1, 1994
Would require welfare recipients to work

Romney suggested three policy changes: requiring welfare recipients to go to work immediately; eliminating capital gains taxes for firms that invest in inner-city enterprise zones and awarding tax credits for hiring poor residents of those areas; and imposing a crime crackdown with tough mandatory minimum sentences.
Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Anthony Flint in Boston Globe

Mitt Romney on Crime : Oct 24, 1994
Supports death penalty and “three strikes” sentencing

Romney’s crime platform contains little that is radical or new - pro-death penalty, tough sentencing for violent offenders, support for “three strikes,” and support for judges who are tough on crime.
Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Anthony Flint in Boston Globe

Hillary Clinton on Crime : Aug 10, 1994
Supports “Three Strikes” and more prison

There is something wrong when a crime bill takes six years to work its way through Congress and the average criminal serves only four.

We need more police, we need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders. The three strikes and you’re out for violent offenders has to be part of the plan. We need more prisons to keep violent offenders for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Unique Voice, p.189-90: Remarks at Annual Women in Policing

  • Additional quotations related to Three Strikes issues can be found under Crime.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Crime.
Candidates on Crime:
Pres.Barack Obama
V.P.Joe Biden
Secy.John Kerry
Secy.Chuck Hagel

 Related issues:
Death Penalty
Drug War

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Gov.Jeb Bush(R-FL)
Dr.Ben Carson(T-MD)
Gov.Chris Christie(R-NJ)
Secy.Hillary Clinton(D-NY)
Sen.Ted Cruz(T-TX)
Gov.Andrew Cuomo(D-NY)
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Rep.Peter King(R-NY)
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Sen.Rand Paul(R-KY)
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Gov.Scott Walker(R-WI)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren(D-MA)
Sen.James Webb(D-VA)
Gov.Jesse Ventura(I-MN)
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Rep.Michele Bachmann(T-MN)
Mayor Michael Bloomberg(I-NYC)
Mayor Rahm Emanuel(D-IL)
Rep.Newt Gingrich(R-GA)
Gov.Nikk Haley(R-SC)
Gov.Mike Huckabee(R-AR)
Gov.Jon Huntsman(R-UT)
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Gov.Gary Johnson(L-NM)
Gov.Sarah Palin(R-AK)
Gov.Deval Patrick(D-MA)
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Donald Trump(I-NY)
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Page last updated: Jan 23, 2015