Department of Public Safety Commissioner James C. Deleon Guerrero believes the “Three Strikes and You’re Out” sentencing will probably not ever be implemented in the CNMI because it eventually adds up to the cost and makes it more expensive to run a jail.
Even as it is right now, it is costing the CNMI government a great deal of money just to incarcerate people, Deleon Guerrero said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
He said his information is that it costs the government over $30,000 per inmate a year.
Deleon Guerrero noted that in California there is this “Three Strikes and You’re Out” criminal sentencing measure. Under the law, criminal offenders who are thrice convicted face 25 years to life in prison.
He believes this measure would be helpful in the CNMI for certain categories of offenses like burglary and robbery.
“There is a saying that once a thief you are always a thief,” he said.
Looking at the people who commit these crimes—burglary and robbery—Deleon Guerrero said they are the same people going in and out of jail all the time.
“There may be a couple of new faces every now and then but for the most part it is really a small portion of the population that is going out there that is victimizing the community,” he pointed out.
“And if you can’t be successfully rehabilitated, then perhaps it is time for you to get put away, put away at a place where you can no longer hurt other members of the community,” he added.
The commissioner said if ever such a sentencing law is implemented in the Commonwealth, then it should be framed in a way that actually targets crimes that cause the most harm to the community, as opposed to just “Three Strikes and You’re Out” for any violation.