Apr 9, 2007

the law is an ass, part MCLXVI

Two legal phrases that addle the brain: Zero Tolerance Policy and Three Strikes, You're Out.

The latter on display here.
Hear about the guy who spent 71 days in jail for stealing two hot dogs from a Wichita QuikTrip?

Wait. He didn't steal the hot dogs, he just forgot to pay for them. Twelve people took two days off to serve jury duty last week, heard the evidence, and found the guy not guilty.

"It was stupid," said presiding juror Krysti Mason, 21.

This is no joke. The case of Thomas M. Wimberly, a 74-year-old veteran living on Social Security, highlights both inconsistencies in the law and the experiences of poor people in the criminal justice system.

Wimberly sat in jail unable to make bond, $100,000 at one point, charged with a crime that -- even if he'd been convicted -- brings no time behind bars, only probation.

The hot dogs cost $2.11, "with tax," assistant store manager Jeff Dalke testified.

A bill tied up in the state Legislature would clear up a law that leads to cases like Wimberly's and frustrates prosecutors.

Kansas law requires felony prosecution for crimes such as petty theft if the suspect has had two prior convictions.

When Wimberly walked out of the QuikTrip at Broadway and Murdock without paying for the hot dogs last July, he had two previous misdemeanor thefts on his record -- one more than a decade old.
Read the whole tragic tale.

[via Obscure Store]

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