Penal law and theory generally "addresses itself to two types of criminals: first offenders and habitual offenders or recidivists. Those in the latter group have been referred to as failures for two reasons: first, they have failed to alter their previous behavior and make an adequate adjustment upon returning to society; second, society has failed with them in terms of its efforts at correction, treatment, and rehabilitation. The traditional method of dealing with the recidivist has been to increase the punishment "increasing the dosage of a medicine which failed to cure when administered in small quantities." Indeed, upon conviction for a crime, a person with prior convictions will often be subject to recidivism laws. It is the purpose of this comment to examine the theory and operation of these laws in an attempt to point out their faults and to suggest means for their re-evaluation.

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