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The law of unintended consequences never goes out of style

The San Francisco Gate reported a story about a man who went to jail for life for forging an $83.00 check.  The story focuses on how prosecutors threaten people with extreme sentences to coerce them into pleading guilty to crimes in which they believe they are innocent. What this highlights is the law of unintended consequences of knee-jerk-reaction-tough-on-crime-legislation specifically three strikes and your outlaws. In the 1990s many news reports were published about repeat offenders committing a crime and going to jail only being released early on parole and committing violent and other heinous crimes when they should have still been in jail. The reaction was to imposed mandatory minimum sentences three strikes and your outlaws. Soon jail populations swelled and as a country, we were spending more money on prisons than pupils and for seemingly petty and minor offenses. This is the law of unintended consequences at work.  As former Georgia Senator Richard Russell was fond of saying; “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

-Author: George C. Creal Jr.

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