A “two strikes and you’re out” crime sentencing bill was signed into law Saturday by Gov. Marc Racicot.
The measure calls for a life sentence without parole upon a second conviction for the crimes of murder, aggravated kidnapping, rape or sexual abuse of children.
The bill also includes a “three strikes” provision that mandates life without parole for a third conviction of mitigated murder, kidnapping, robbery, arson or aggravated assault.
“This bill … sends a good message that we are not open for business in Montana to these predators,” said the sponsor, Sen. J.D. Lynch, D-Butte.
The bill is based on a “two strikes” sentencing law passed by Georgia voters last November and touted by supporters as the toughest sentencing law in the nation.
At least 14 states have two- or three-strike sentencing provisions and the crime bill passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton last year also contains three-strike provisions.
Montana corrections officials believe Senate Bill 66 will result in life sentences for an additional five or six criminals per year. That would require a new high-security cell block every 10-15 years costing $4 million to $5 million to build and $1.2 million a year to operate.
The effective date of the bill was delayed until mid-1997 to give a special sentencing commission time to review the various sentencing bills passed by lawmakers this session.
The commission will analyze the bills to make sure there is no conflict among the many changes being made in sentencing laws.
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