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Twenty-eight states have some form of a "three-strikes" law.A person accused under such laws is referred to in a few states (notably Connecticut and Kansas) as a "persistent offender", while Missouri uses the unique term "prior and persistent offender".Although this sentencing was disputed by Erwin Chemerinsky, who represented Andrade, as cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled in support for the life sentencing.In 1995, Sioux City, Iowa native Tommy Lee Farmer, a professional criminal who had served 43 years in prison for murder and armed robbery was the first person in the United States to be convicted under the federal three-strikes law when he was sentenced to life in prison for an attempted robbery at an eastern Iowa convenience store.The expression "Three strikes and you are out" is derived from baseball, where a batter against whom three strikes are recorded strikes out.The practice of imposing longer prison sentences on repeat offenders (versus first-time offenders who commit the same crime) is nothing new, as judges often take into consideration prior offenses when sentencing.

The study argues that the decrease in crime is linked to lower alcohol consumption and unemployment.The first true "three-strikes" law was passed in 1993, when Washington voters approved Initiative 593.California passed its own in 1994, when their voters passed Proposition 184 by an overwhelming majority, with 72% in favor and 28% against.A 2007 study from the Vera Institute of Justice in New York examined the effectiveness of incapacitation under all forms of sentencing.The study estimated that if US incarceration rates were increased by 10 per cent, the crime rate would decrease by at least 2%.

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