Here you’ll find all of the official reports and studies we currently have on-site in support of 3 Strikes.


Our Most Popular Studies Showing 3 Strikes Deterrence Value

The FBI Study

The Harvard Study

The Chicago Study

The GMU Study, ”Does Three Strikes Deter?”


The Proposition 36 Progress Report by the Stanford Law School project of the same name released its findings in April 2014. Their report shows their project is working magnificiently. They’re finding a low recidivism rate of 1.3%, which if true, may more likely be “attributable to those who were released being hand-picked as the least likely to reoffend”. What is not shown are those in this first group of 1,500 felons to be released are those who have committed new crimes and are being held locally in county jails. There are also those who have been re-arrested and are awaiting sentencing in county jails whose numbers were not included in this study. Stanford Law also has the advantage of the State Attorney General not processing or releasing crime reports as was the case previously. Crime will remain invariably low until we return to releasing reliable crime reports as used to be the case. Mike Reynolds’ comments have much to say.


The Prelimary Report from the FBI for California is reflecting the expected rise in from Governor Brown’s Realignment/ AB109. The report covers data to June 2012. You can see at a glance the greater differences between figures for all of 2011 versus just 6 months for 2012.


Just in from the California District Attorneys Association, Carl Adams, Scott Thorpe and Thomas Toller have produced a white paper on 3 Strikes and the changes Proposition 36 would inflict on the residents of California. It’s a must read for students and professors alike, especially those from Stanford.


This is a remarkable study that should be read by all (especially you students). What I find amazing is the fact that it came from a San Francisco Bay Area Law School that has the reputation for generating some of the most liberal minds in the country. It is from Golden Gate Iniversity Law Review and is entitled: “Career Criminals Targeted: The Verdict is in, California’s Three Strikes Law Proves Effective (pdf format).” Naomi has our approval for her very fine work.


OTHER STATES AND 3 STRIKES – While this site is dedicated to California and its 3 Strikes law, we are often asked about other states and their 3 Strike laws. The best state by state breakdown we have found is published in a book called, “Three Strikes Laws” by Jennifer E. Walsh, published by Greenwood Press. The excerpts we have selected are an excellent side by side comparison of what states are actually using 3 Strikes laws and what constitutes a strike in one state and what does not in another.

Pre – 2010

Introducing two studies pertinent to the arguments that are about to be had, Three Strikes has posted a two-in-one on The Myth of the (so-called) Low-Risk State Prisoner and The Rearrest of State Prisoners Following Release from Prison. The stats are a frightening forecast of what Californian’s can expect should Governor Schwarzenegger and the Legislature be successful in downsizing the prison population by some 27,000 inmates. You’ll need Adobe’s Reader to view and/or print them.

“Three Strikes and You’re Out” 15 Year Report shows that 3 Strikes prevents approximately 1,000,000 serious or violent crimes per year. Some of the highlights of the report show that $54,000,000,000 has been saved since its passage in 1994. Not only so but 3 Strikes is responsible for saving 10,000 Californians from being murder victims and 3,000,000 Californians from being victimized. Mike Reynolds prepared some remarks for the visitors to our website.

Three Strikes is acknowledging its 10 year anniversary this year (March 2004). Mike Reynolds has prepared a report showing the results of 10 years of 3-Strikes that should persuade even the most ardent detractor of 3-Strikes and You’re Out. We’ve also added an index page with 2 articles from the LA Times and Sacramento Bee. As you might guess, we believe that Dan Walters was the only one to give 3-Strikes a fair shake. The rest were guilty of selective exclusion of evidence. A distributable PDF copy of the Ten Year Report here.

THE HARVARD STUDY Radha Iyengar, of Harvard University, wrote a rather insightful study curiously titled, I’d Rather be Hanged for a Sheep than a Lamb: The Unintended Consequences of ‘Three Strikes’ Laws, October 2007, in which he states, “I estimate that Three Strikes reduced participation in criminal activity by 20 percent for second-strike eligible offenders and a 28 percent decline for third-strike eligible offenders.” It is a must read for criminologists, journalists and you students.

Prosecutors’ Perspective on California’s Three Strikes Law, 2004. You’ll find a comprehensive report, based on a year-long study, that provides discussion of the positive effects that the Three Strikes law has had in California from the California District Attorneys Association.

Another comprehensive study by The Journal of the Institute for the Advancement of Criminal Justice debunks the numerous myths used by the opposition to attack 3-Strikes and provides real data showing 3-Strikes effectiveness.

A summary of a study from the office of California State Senator Chuck Poochigian is one of the most informative we’ve seen here at Three Strikes and we’re sure you’ll find it as an informative a piece as we did.

California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, ever the source of questionable scholarship, upholds its reputation with its latest release, “A Primer: Three Strikes, The Impact After More Than a Decade. Mike Reynolds asked that his response to Elizabeth Hill be posted here for our visitors to peruse.

THE GMU STUDY Well we here have yet another scholarly study, Does Three Strikes Deter?, supporting California’s Three Strikes and You’re Out. Just in from George Mason University, Eric Helland and Alexander Tabarrok, have produced “a novel strategy to identify the deterrent effect exclusive of incapacitation.” As you can read for yourself, ‘We find that California’s three strike legislation significantly reduces felony arrests rates among the class of criminals with 1 strike by 48 percent and among the class of criminals with 2 strikes by 12.5 percent.” It’s really quite frightening how our critics miss or ignore such information. Could their “willing suspension of disbelief” be creeping into their scientific findings?

Just in from the California District Attorneys Association, a white paper on the “Prosecutor’s Perspective on California’s Three Strikes Law. (PDF format)” The preface, by James P. Fox, the San Mateo County District Attorney, is unique in that the DA opposed Three Strikes when first proposed. He has now become convinced of its effectiveness and in retrospect now says,”In reality, the actual implementation of the law has been appropriate. In fact, it has operated as intended, by removing from California communities those who have demonstrated an unwillingness to conform their behavior to the expectations of a civilized society.”

Three Strikes has another study, “Tough for Whom?” (PDF format) by a talented criminology professor from UCLA. Professor Walsh shows that it is a myth that most offenders sentenced under the law committed minor offenses as their third strike. On the contrary, two-thirds of those now serving a three-strike sentence in California committed, as their most recent offense, a violent crime, burglary (residential or commercial), or illegal possession of a weapon.

This information may considered the first effort at deceiving Californians into releasing tens of thousands of hard core felons. The name of the initiative would give the average reader the impression they were voting for keeping children safe from predators and keeping 3 Strikes as it was. Nothing could have been further from the truth, as the analysis will show. For those looking for information on the so-called “3-Strikes Reform” initiative, Douglas Pipes, Senior Deputy District Attorney for Contra Costa County has provided an analysis of the initiative and included a report on the number of second and third strikers that would be released upon the law abiding in California. Mike has also added a brief prognostication of what the so-called reform initiative would unleash upon the law-abiding of California.

Three Strikes has made available numerous documents and studies supplied by the State of California. The first, from the CA Dept. of Corrections (PDF format), Data Analysis Unit, has to do with every aspect of second and third strikers. They are categorized by OFFENSE, COUNTY, GENDER, RACE/ETHNICITY and TYPE OF CONVICTION.

THE CHICAGO STUDY FEAR OF THE FIRST STRIKE: THE FULL DETERRENT EFFECT OF CALIFORNIA’S THREE STRIKE LEGISLATION, by Joanna M. Shepherd of The University of Chicago, first printed in January 2002, states, “Many states have recently enacted three-strikes laws to increase punishment for frequent offenders. However, only California actively enforces its three-strikes legislation. Existing studies of the impact on crime in California consider only partial deterrence: the deterrence of offenders committing their last strike. The only study addressing full deterrence, the deterrence of all potential offenders, examines the impact across all states in a model that does not consider the simultaneity of crime and the passage of three-strikes laws.”

THE FBI STUDY Just in, although a little tardy, is a study printed in the April 1999 edition of the U.S. Department of Justice’s, “FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.” The article contains detailed information of the deterrent effect of the nation’s 3 strike laws, including California’s, and offender demographic and socioeconomic data. It is a highly recommended read.

CA Prison Data. Three Strikes has just added some very interesting statistics on the lengths of sentences, the average sentence, the death sentence and the ethnic composition of prison inmates throughout the United States. Mike Reynolds has written some remarks for your consideration. There is an index through which you can access these studies from the above link. Though California’s Three Strikes sentencing law receives the lion’s share of unfair criticism, California’s percentages of the above mentioned categories are not unlike many other states with less aggressive sentencing guidelines.

The FBI Study. Three Strikes just received a copy of a 5 year study, from 1993 to 1998, conducted by the FBI that shows California leading all the other 49 states in crime reduction. The greatest decrease showing a 49.8% drop in California’s homicide rate! The following link will take you to an introduction article by Mike and then to the study itself. The reader should be made aware that California is the only state not to require that the third strike not be serious or violent. This is likely the reason for the significant differences.

This link is to a page containing a statistical breakdown of the gender and ethnic make up of the prison population throughout the United States as 1/1/99 as well as the incarceration rate per 100,000 law-abiding citizens. On January 1st, 1999, there were 1,310,636 prisoners in various state and federal penitentiaries. This comprises 0.0047% of the U.S. population (percentage a result of the 2000 census).

Presiding Justice of the California Fifth District Court of Appeals, James Ardaiz, was one of the legal minds behind the creation of 3 Strikes, authored this study on the remarkable effectiveness achieved by 3 Strikes in just 4 short years in 1998.

Did you know that the financial aspects of crime in these United States averages $450 billion per year? Violent crime accounts for $426 billion of that amount! This report from the United States DOJ National Institute of Justice details each category. It is an in depth study of Victim Costs and Consequences. We at Three Strikes also have this study available in Adobe’s PDF format.

A 1998 study by Secretary of State Bill Jones, who co-authored AB971 with Jim Costa the legislative form of 3 Strikes before it was reaffirmed by the residents of California at the ballot box as Prop. 184 in 1994.

A January 1996 study from the National Institutes of The Extent and Costs of Crime Justice on The Extent and Costs of Crime. It is one of the first and foremost studies ever to detail the heavy toll of crime on its victims, on society at large, and all the various levels of government. A must read for our visitors here at Three Strikes.

Former California Attorney General, now US Congressman, Dan Lundgren authored one of several reports at the time of ‘3 Strikes’ shifting criminal sentencing policy away from the failed policies of former Governor Jerry Brown’s first and second administrations from 1974 to 1982. Governor George Deukmejian oversaw the financing, building and staffing of 19 new states prisons during his 8 years as Governor to deal with the 400% increase in crime attributable to the previous 8 years of Jerry Brown’s “soft on crime” liberal policies. Congressman Lundgren clearly details what happened during the first 4 years of 3 Strikes and You’re Out.