The Three Strikes law

Jail by Getty Images

What happened to Curtis Wilkerson when he stole a pair of socks from a department store?

What was the sentence for Jerry Dewayne when he stole a slice of pizza?

How was a man punished for taking five children's videotapes from Kmart?

What became of Lester Wallace after he stole a car radio?

Did you hear about Gary Ewing, who stuffed three golf clubs down his trouser leg in a sports store?

How about Norman Williams, who stole road flares and a floor jack from a tow truck?

There is no punch line. All of these people received life sentences for these trivial crimes, under Californias Three Strikes law.

They are not alone, according to Matt Taibbis eye-opening Rolling Stone article on the shame of the Three Strikes laws.

He said: Despite the passage in late 2012 of a new state ballot initiative that prevents California from ever again giving out life sentences to anyone whose "third strike" is not a serious crime, thousands of people the overwhelming majority of them poor and non-white remain imprisoned for a variety of offenses so absurd that any list of the unluckiest offenders reads like a macabre joke, a surrealistic comedy routine.

Away from the ludicrous nature of being imprisoned for life for stealing $2.50 socks, many of those jailed under the Three Strikes laws have fallen foul of the war on drugs, which persists on treating drugs as a criminal problem rather than a health issue. Less than five per cent of the world's people live in the US, but 25 per cent of the world's prisoners are there.

Head over to Rolling Stone to read the whole story and share your thoughts on the Three Strikes law.

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