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Three Strikes and You’re Out: Should Baseball Rules be executed on Indian Criminal Legislation?

Updated: Nov 9, 2020


Davina David, III year of B.L.S.,LL.B. from Thakur Ramnarayan College of Law (Mumbai University)

The accrued level of crime rates in the U.S during the 90’s era, made the Federal government obligated to take certain austere measures. One of the steps enacted was the ‘Three Strikes Law’.

Three Strikes and you’re out is the underlying principle for the criminal penalties in America and its root source is traced from the most popular game known that is Baseball. In this game, there is a batter and when against him three strikes have been recorded, he would be stroked out.

As quoted by one of a famous Author H. Jackson Brown Jr., “Give people a second chance, but not a third”

Inferring the meaning from this famous gameplay, two or more serious felonies or severe convictions will lead you to face life imprisonment or imprisonment for about 25 years and such offenders are called ‘Third Strikers’. It includes felonies like rape, murder, aggravated cases of robbery, sexual abuse or child sexual abuse. This Three Strikes law prevails in more than 28 different states.

Reason for Commencement of Three strikes Law in California and America

In a country like America which is completely made on the principles of desert, incompetence and deterrence the three strikes law is always considered the answer for all the crimes committed.

The ‘Three Strikes Law’ was made official by the government in 1993 due to the extensive increase in the crime rates and it was put into motion by a father whose daughter of 18 years old was murdered by a man in 1992 having a very severe criminal record. This law came into effect in 1993 only after the abduction and murder of a 12-year-old girl. The starting stage of this law was passed in 1993 when the Washington voters approved the Initiative Measure 593.

Over a while, California passed its own three strikes law in March 1994 in response to the horrendous murder of the two girls Polly Klaas and Kimberly Reynolds, when their voters passed the Proposition 184 by an amazing majority with 72% in favour and 28% against. This initiative received the name ‘Three Strikes Law’ and soon became a slogan for the people of California. After this, around 8 Lakh people signed a petition for deterring the repeating offenders and also de facto referring to life imprisonment or 25 years of life imprisonment after being convicted of three or more serious felonies which are recorded under California Penal Code section 1192.7. Now California holds the highest record in the implication of three strikes law and is the biggest penal experiment of its modern American criminal Jurisprudence due to all of its differentiated provisions and most important to be considered is the doubling of the nominal sentences for many second-strike offenders.

This law faced a lot of criticism and controversies; one of them was that the third strike should not be a serious offence as 25 years of imprisonment would be quite harsh if the offences committed by the criminals are not as serious as the other heinous crimes. But on the other hand, the Attorney General office had asserted that since the implication of the deterrent effect of the Three Strikes rule the crime rate in California had dropped down to 26.9% which is around 815,000 lesser crimes and proved that this law worked quite efficiently and brought a great significant change.

India’s need for such reform

Over a while, it has been observed that crime rates have been increasing extensively and mostly against women. The increase has been enormous ever since the time of Independence. According to the statistics given by the National Crime Records Bureau, the murder rate has been increased by 7% and kidnapping by 47%. Whereas rape has been marked as the most common heinous crime committed and it has outnumbered various offences. Also concerning the Global Criminal Statistics, India still stands out compared to the other countries.

Considering all these situations, the criminals are not given much more stringent punishment as they deserve. Although for many cases there are strict punishments in our Criminal Justice System like life imprisonment and the death penalty they itself have loopholes around it, which leads these criminals to roam around freely and even if they get imprisoned for a while, after coming back they perform the same act again. They have no sense of fright in them. This is how our Indian Judicial system has become, no fair justice or trial is being awarded to the victims of such heinous crimes. It is the victimizer suffering more than the criminals which are inappropriate.

A standard example which we all can agree upon is the Nirbhaya Gang rape case which astounded the entire country and this still questions the presence of Constitution which protects us citizens but couldn’t reach up to it.


It is high time that the Government realizes what more actions and strict laws can be implemented to curb these crimes as looking around in society with these situations, this law is required more than ever. In a country where the crime rates are more than the literacy rates and both the animals and women are not safer in such an environment, the three strikes law should be implemented. As this law would at least bring a sense of fear in the minds of the criminals. Once any criminal or rapist gets convicted for 25 years then automatically the other criminals will think more than 100 times in the second strike as the next stage would be a knockout and they cannot even think about escaping once the sentence has been given.

Hence the three strikes law is such a law that can be used as a weapon to reduce the crime rates and promises to wipe out those people who do not fear the law and provide fair trial and justice to the victim of such crimes. Therefore this is a way that can fulfil all the needs that the society requires and when implemented can for sure bring a considerable change in the Indian Criminal Jurisprudence.


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