NEWS OF THE WEIRD

Perspective

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In November, an exhaustive American Civil Liberties Union report showed more than 3,200 people are serving life sentences in the U.S. for non-violent offenses (about 80 percent for drug crimes). Most were sentenced under "three-strikes"-type laws in which the final straw might be for trivial drug possession, for instance, or for petty theft, like a $159-jacket shoplifting in Louisiana, or a two-jersey theft from Foot Locker. Said the jacket thief Timothy Jackson, "I know that for my crime I had to do some time but … I've met people here whose crimes are a lot badder with way less time." Added his sister, "You can take a life and get 15 or 16 years," but her brother "will stay in jail forever. He didn't kill the jacket!"

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