Bizarre, Draconian And Disproportionate?

The Supreme Court will decide whether the three-strikes law should send shoplifters to jail for life

On the face of it, the penalty seems a travesty of justice. A California man steals $153 worth of children's videos from two K Marts. The nine movies, including Snow White, Cinderella and Free Willy 2, are Christmas presents, he claims. Convicted of petty theft, he is sentenced to a 50-years-to-life term in prison.

But what if the man, a sometime her-oin abuser, is a chronic offender? What if he had already served four years for burglarizing three homes? And what if, after serving that time, he had been convicted of a shoplifting offense before the K Mart incidents? Does his...

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