The Law: 20 Times Life

The all-white Oklahoma City jury took only six minutes to decide on a guilty verdict for the black man accused of abducting and raping a white woman at knife point. It took longer to set the penalty, which Oklahoma juries must also do. After two hours, the eleven men and one woman finally agreed. The astonishing sentence for Charles Callins, 22, an ex-con with no previous sex offenses on his record: 1,500 years, the longest known prison term for a single offense ever ordered in the U.S.

The gigantic sentence was the latest indication of...

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