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'3 Strikes' Passage

March 18, 1994

* Re "Why 'Three Strikes' May Take California for a Ride," editorial, March 13:

It never ceases to amaze me how the left just can't get the message of the "three strikes and you're out" bill. The overwhelming majority of the population doesn't care if it fails to deter crime. They don't care that "50-cent felons" are going to jail for life. And they don't care about the so-called Law of Unintended Consequences.

What the public does care about is keeping dangerous felons off the streets for good. Is the new law perfect? No. But is it better than endless negotiation and discussion in the state Legislature by a group of politicians who seem to be more concerned about criminals' rights than the rights of the criminals' victims and families? Yes.

STEVEN ZELMAN

Manhattan Beach

* The sick irony of your editorial is that it's The Times that's been taking its readers for a ride for years.

Your half-truth that one of the first felons to be charged under the law allegedly wrested 50 cents from a homeless man irresponsibly omitted the fact that the criminal had a rap sheet 52 pages long. How much have those apprehensions and legal costs amounted to already, to say nothing of the tragic cost to victims?

As for your fears that life imprisonment for first-time rapists and child molesters would be unjust, inappropriate and too costly, where have you been? Did you miss all the studies that invariably show these creeps never stop at one incident? If your misplaced pity still lies with the perpetrators, do you think the police work and interminable trials incurred by these heinous acts are free?

BEVERLY DELOTT

Pacific Palisades

* There are a couple of things having to do with the "three strikes" law that I just don't seem to understand.

Instead of lawyers advising their clients to go to trial rather than plea bargain, because a plea bargain will count as a conviction, and therefore be a "strike" against them, why don't they advise them to take the plea bargain and then not commit any more felonies?

The other source of mystery is why some people seem to think that the law should only apply to violent felons. Persons who view others in society as potential victims of their violence or as suckers to be fleeced are both contemptible. Both ways of thinking can and do cause enormous harm.

BRUCE IRWIN

West Hollywood

* With crime becoming our No. 2 pastime it behooves us not to get too carried away by "three strikes and you're out."

After all, our No. 1 national pastime, baseball, gives you extra chances in case of "foul balls."

WILLIAM KRAUSE

Palm Springs

* Concerning Sherry Jeffe's "three strikes" article (Opinion, March 13): What is so wrong with California's legislators being responsive to the desires of their constituency? It is a sad indictment of our legislative process that the people have to scream so loudly to effect any real change.

Yes, three strikes will be expensive. And yes, state representatives will have to make some very difficult decisions on how to finance this new legislation, but the task of providing safe city streets for law-abiding citizens of our state is perhaps the most fundamental duty of our public sector.

WILLIAM H. BROWN

Los Angeles

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