Criminal Justice

Life in Prison for Stealing Candy Bars in New Orleans?

Even the judge thinks it's "over the top," but Louisiana's "habitual-offender" law takes away his discretion.

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Jacobia Grimes, 34, allegedly stole some candy bars,

Life for $31 of candy bars?
Orleans Parish Sheriff's Department

totaling $31, from a Dollar General store in New Orleans last December. He was caught by the manager and arrested without a struggle.

He's done this before, a lot of times, actually. Grimes has tallied 24 arrests in the past 20 years, and his five previous convictions for theft led the District Attorney's office to charge him under a statute that makes his latest petty crime a felony under the law. That felony charge, which normally includes a maximum sentence of two years, is boosted to 20 years to life because of Louisiana's "habitual-offender law."

The Advocate's John Simerman reports that when Criminal District Court Judge Franz Zibilich learned of Orleans Parish DA Leon A. Cannizzaro Jr.'s decision to charge Grimes' candy bar theft as a felony during his arraignment, the judge asked, "Isn't this a little over the top?" Judge Zibiloch added, "It's not even funny…twenty years to life for a Snickers bar," but mandatory minimum sentencing rules remove the judge's ability to exercise his/her discretion.

According to Simerman, Cannizzaro's office "often takes advantage of such charging decisions to ratchet up the possible consequences for criminal defendants, sometimes as leverage to elicit guilty pleas."

Cannizzaro took great exception with that characterization, writing in a letter to the Advocate that in addition to theft, Grimes had been previously convicted of "crimes such as illegal possession of stolen things, unauthorized use of a moveable, possession of drug paraphernalia, obscenity and distribution of false drugs." 

Cannizzaro added:

Where were all the "reformers" after those convictions?

The DA's Office has repeatedly requested funding to place similarly situated offenders in its diversion program. This would allow such offenders to get out of jail, receive mental health and substance abuse counseling, and avoid the consequences of another conviction on their records. The city, however, has routinely denied these requests. As such, the DA's Office must choose between the lesser of two evils — putting this defendant back on the street without any rehabilitation or putting him in jail.

Nola.com has described Louisiana as "the world's prison capital," with a per-capita incarcerated population "nearly five times Iran's, 13 times China's and 20 times Germany's."

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  1. “unauthorized use of a moveable”

    How does one even obtain authorization for using a moveable?

    1. What the hell *is* a moveable?

      And what are the other charges? “illegal possession of stolen things” is such a broad category that we have no clue what he did. Obscenity, drug paraphernalia and “false drugs” shouldn’t be crimes at all (the latter of which wouldn’t even be a thing without the asinine drug war).

      1. That rather leapt out at me as well. These are nothing-crimes. “Crimes”, would be more accurate.

      2. I was thinking a shopping cart but Louisiana calls anything not nailed down a “movable”. There’s something about “without any intention to permanently deprive” so I’m thinking shopping cart again.

      3. What the hell *is* a moveable?

        Seriously? See; *Security* in Possessions *and Effects*. Chattels. The taking of which or violation of is Theft or Piracy.

        More contemporarily or (maybe) libertarianishly; you buy a DVD because you think piracy is bad and I borrow it without permission, make a copy, and put the original back, I’m in possession of a movable and/or committed trespass to chattels.

        Again, I don’t agree with the punishment, but me depriving you of your property or using your property without your permission in direct violation of your moral convictions is pretty fundamental to civil society if not the heart of libertarianism.

      4. “false drugs” shouldn’t be crimes at all (the latter of which wouldn’t even be a thing without the asinine drug war)

        Disagree. If I were trying to buy coke and got baking soda or something, I’d want the dealer arrested for selling false drugs. Fraud is fraud.

        Granted, I don’t think that’s what the government found objectionable about the transaction…

        1. If I were trying to buy coke and got baking soda or something, I’d want the dealer arrested for selling false drugs.

          Or ersatz mayo

    2. Unauthorized use of a movable is the intentional taking or use of a movable which belongs to another, either without the other’s consent, or by means of fraudulent conduct, practices, or representations, but without any intention to deprive the other of the movable permanently. The fact that the movable so taken or used may be classified as an immovable, according to the law pertaining to civil matters, is immaterial.

      He borrowed a car without asking and returned it, I guess? It’s a bit vague.

      1. I doubt he can drive, shopping cart.

        1. Yeah, I saw the shopping cart idea after this. Makes more sense. If this was a car they would have gone straight for GTA.

    3. Maybe he hijacked a freight train, or an ocean liner — or took a ballpoint pen, or a cube of sugar. This is the sort of statutory “crime” that was designed (in the only Napoleonic codes – civil law – state in the U.S.) to allow prosecutors to charge just about anyone they don’t like with just about anything they can think up.

    4. moveable authorization?

      In terms of life in prison for candy bar theft, the sentence seems extreme.

      But I can’t help but look at it another way: This moron had 24 chances to straighten up. He didn’t. Now he’s gone. We won’t miss him.

  2. But I’m told that statutory law is the only rational body of law. The rest are based on icky precedents and customs.

    1. What’s a reasonable penalty for a sixth conviction? A seventh? A twentieth?

      1. I suppose that would depend on the exact crime for which one is being tried. How many candy bars should it take to invoke the death penalty?

        1. If he broke into my house to steal it, one.

          Let’s say this is his sixth conviction and all six were for the same $31. It seems clear that penalties to this point have had little to no deterrent effect. You’re on the jury. What’s your recommendation?

          1. Well assuming that we’re talking about shoplifting, not a B&E charge, a year seems more than sufficient for stealing $31. It’s not like a year in prison doesn’t suck. For a guy for whom prison is no deterrent, clearly the guy is mentally ill, he should have a parole officer up his ass ready to give him another year or two at the next opportunity. A $31 theft automatically resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars to incarcerate someone for decades isn’t proportional from the tax payer’s point of view either.

            1. You and Dollar General can pay to lock this guy up for a year. Its a waste of resources.

              1. a year seems more than sufficient

              2. Perhaps… if he’s only committed 24 $31 crimes. (I’m aware that I’m assuming arrest=guilt, but I didn’t see a total count for convictions – only for theft.)

                But how many crimes has he committed for which he has not been caught? I have to think that’s in the hundreds. Why? Because if he were arrested, tried, convicted, sentenced, did time in jail for every crime he committed, then he’d have 100% negative-reinforcement. I’d have to think even the dumbest criminal would learn from that. But he went on to commit a 25th crime for which he was arrested, which tells me he must have been getting positive-reinforcement along the way – enough to override the 24 previous arrests. Most criminals don’t start out to get caught. They try to avoid it. So we have to assume he didn’t expect to be caught – which tells me he’s probably stolen at lot more than 24 times – and mostly gotten away with it.

                The cost to lock him up is way over the top. It shouldn’t cost $50,000 a year to incarcerate someone. Sheriff Arpaio seems to have a handle on that. But unless you like pink outfits and cheese sandwiches (the oil, nasty “cheese” – not the good stuff), I’d steer clear of his jurisdiction.

            2. Restitution and community service. Extend it another hundred hours for every theft. He’s employed, albeit by the state, but it serves the community (*forfeits libertarian card*) better than paying to incarcerate the guy.

            3. I don’t know how long his previous five sentences for theft were. An honest to Zod year — 365 calendar days, not some “good time” fiction — might not be unreasonable, depending on the length of the previous sentences.

              Really, though, unless he stops, you’re just boiling the frog slowly. You’re still going to end up with sentences that are decried as excessive. “Ten years for stealing $31? Outrageous!”

              1. It is outrageous, though, at least from the taxpayer perspective. Even if this guy steals $31 every day, that’s nowhere near the cost of incarcerating him. It would be cheaper for society to just pay the store owner $31, but then you would embolden the thief. You could fine this guy to cover what he stole plus law enforcement costs, but I doubt he could pay it. It’s always going to be difficult to figure out what to do with people who consistently decide to destroy more value than they possess. Killing them would be the most efficient solution, but you know who else…?

                ::shrugs shoulders::

              2. That depends on your philosophy on the point of law in these circumstances. If you think it’s deterrence, there’s quite a bit of study showing that deterrence doesn’t work. If it’s restitution, then the guy needs to pony up $31 and whatever fees it costs to process the case or equivalent community service – no matter how often he does it. The damage is the same, no matter how many times the crime is committed, increasing penalties is irrational. If it’s revenge, then I think your legal philosophy is BS…

            4. Pretty sure the people of the US are used to coughing up all kinds of money to cover people who have no use to society.

              1. Pretty sure the people of the US are used to coughing up all kinds of money to cover people who have no use to society.

                Which is a problem. At a certain point, a person ought to be ostracized to a point where they can’t survive and reproduce. But alas those are precisely the people we subsidize the existence of, one way or another.

          2. Flogging. Seriously.

          3. Be honest, would you kill someone for swiping a potted plant off your porch?

            1. I don’t consider that “breaking in,” so it’s pretty hard to think of a scenario in which I would shoot someone for just that.

              If he’s inside my house, I’m not going to interview him about his intentions.

              1. Good answer.

          4. My personal preference is for some sort of safe, but painful corporal punishment (coupled to some form of restitution, even if the state actually provides repayment to the victim for the perpetrator’s community service), for crimes that have victims, but are not violent in nature.

            For people that are stealing because it’s easy, or because they don’t have respect for others, aversive therapy (so to speak) should correct that. Presumably only a manageable minority or the desperate or mentally ill would continue to steal.

      2. Could he, already, be institutionalized? He might get along better inside. But, maybe, he was just hungry!?………(;-P

  3. Am I supposed to feel sorry for this shitbag?

    This isn’t a victimless crime. And he’ll clearly never stop.

    There is a difference between locking up people who don’t harm anyone and locking up those who do. Yes, punishment should fit the crime, BUT, punishment should increase if the offence is repeated.

    I have no problem with this.

    1. Am I supposed to feel sorry for this shitbag?

      My exact thoughts.

      This guy has a habit of property theft. I left my libertarian rule book at home but I’m pretty sure theft of property, let alone habitual, was covered as a violation/exemption of the NAP.

      Now, judging people and finding forgiveness for lesser sins, I need to refer to a different rule book.

      1. The MCC Laws of Cricket?

        1. Hoyle

          1. Calvinball.

    2. A horse which cannot be broken is of much less use to its owners.

      Frank. Think about this one a little bit.

      1. Thought about it quite a bit, actually.

        When we were building our house, we had a contractor defraud us for $30K. Now, I’ll cop to not having done our due diligence. We didn’t run a thorough background check. Turns out this pig fucker was a con-man. Been in prison for fraud. Been arrested over a dozen times for bounced checks. A little more research showed that hes been sued dozens of times, never won a suit, yet has never paid a penny in reparations (because he has nothing). We also talked to half a dozen people he ran the exact same scam on (one of whom was a cop).

        I’m out, without recourse (well, it would cost me more than he stole to get justice) while this miserable piece of shit cocksucker moves onto his next mark.

        Individuals like this, violate the NAP and will continue to do so for their entire lives. This guy is a fucking disease and will continue to harm people until he’s locked up or someone with nothing to lose pops a cap in his nugget.

        There is a legitimate role for government.

        1. I’m starting to think that SIV’s suggestion of corporal punishment might be the way to deal with repeat offenders. If prison isn’t uncomfortable enough to be a deterrent, then we need to find something less comfortable. Causing pain can’t be considered cruel and unusual punishment since the DEA forces people to go without pain meds all the time, right?

        2. Cocksuckers as a whole are not responsible for your bad choices, Francis. You had my sympathy until you went off the rails there.

          1. Lighten up Tonio. You have no bigger advocate. But I’m not going to change how I’ve been swearing for 40 years because you find it offensive. Sorry.

            It is not meant as a disparaging remark against homosexuals. It is meant as a disparaging remark. (I don’t think the term pig fucker really refers to someone who fucks pigs, either.) You can take that or leave it.

            1. Meh. Whatevs.

        3. it would cost me more than he stole to get justice

          This is my point.

          Being able to see how your lot in life might improve were you to be dispensed true justice is good. Being able to see this through the eyes of those who will be defining and dispensing justice is crucial.

          How many petty offenses we ought to be allowed to commit against “society” before we can be given up as hopeless. The quantitative deliberation isn’t nearly as dangerous as the definition of “offenses”.

          Yer the horse, dude.

          1. How many petty offenses we ought to be allowed to commit against “society” before we can be given up as hopeless.

            In a perfect world 2. One mistake, one attempt at redemption. It’s just not that hard to avoid intentional harm to others.

            In our world, knowing the system can be bent to ill, people railroaded, wrongly convicted… 3 or 4.

            The quantitative deliberation isn’t nearly as dangerous as the definition of “offenses”.

            Agreed. And I thought I made that distinction. Real crime is when the rights of another are violated. Victimless crime is no crime at all. Government should be held to that standard when defining offenses.

            My issue is that many are so spring loaded to to side with criminals over victimless crime that we do it with shitbags as well.

            1. Real crime is when the rights of another are violated.

              There’s all of these qualifiers and logical little bits. I know you’re inserting these things because they’re necessary to distinguish true harm. It’s a very nice theory, and I happen to agree, but that isn’t what’s on offer.

              What’s on offer is a system with moving goalposts, an ever-increasing laundry list of contradictory rights and no accountability that criminalizes everyone with the comfort of its conscience.

              1. There’s all of these qualifiers and logical little bits

                .

                Not really, HoD. It is in line with my philosophy (that we talked about the other night).

                1. A person may do as they choose, PROVIDED they do not infringe upon the rights of others.
                2. The ONLY legitimate function of government is to protect the rights of the individual.

                #2 applies

                So now it’s a matter of degree. And I’d say that even an anarchist would get to the point of enough is enough. Let’s say Bart comes into your shop and steals a candy bar. He gets punished and is back the next day. You hang signs precluding Bart from your store. He comes in and steals the candy anyway.

                You hire someone to keep Bart out, he sneaks in and takes your shit anyway. How many times before you pop a cap in his ass?

                Yes, the current system doesn’t follow my tenets. I want it to, but it doesn’t. But locking up real bad-guys does follow them, so I really don’t have an issue with the parts of the current system that follow my tenets.

    3. Phew, glad it’s not just me this time.

    4. While I have no sympathy for thieves, I find this to be draconian. Any time you give the state the ability to lock people up for long periods, the state will cast an ever-wider net. Reparations would solve this. Mandatory reparations, that is.

      1. The guy has $0.00, how would you like him to pay the store back?

        1. He can stock the candy bar shelves!

          1. I’d make him stock the beer fridge. Less likely to be short inventory that way.

        2. Keep him in jail until he works it off at $1 per hour or whatever the going rate for inmate jobs is. Yes, this will ultimately cost the taxpayers more than the cost of the candy bar, but that’s just how things work.

        3. The guy has $0.00, how would you like him to pay the store back?

          Steal it from his local congress critter.

      2. How hard is it to not steal candy?

        He did it 24 times. He is a miserable POS who will never stop harming people. He sees no issue with it, obviously. I really don’t want to see you or I be his next victim.

        I agree that people can fuck up, pay for their crimes and go on to be model citizens. We should give folks that chance. After the third or fourth time, you’ve pretty much proven yourself a sociopath.

        1. For me, and presumably you, it’s a no-brainer. And I really appreciate your concern for me, even though I’m a cocksucker and all that. But I noticed how you waltzed right past the problems with allowing the state to lock people away for decades for petty crimes. Please address.

          The prolonged incarceration is a problem for the reasons I specified above, plus you are spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to keep him incarcerated to save merchants the price of a few candy bars. You could declare him mentally ill and incarcerate him in a different kind of place, and probably at greater expense than in the pokey since he’ll receive “treatment” of dubious value. You could tell the merchants to just suck it up, but that would encourage more people to engage in petty theft.

          The best solution would probably be for merchants to have a registry of known shoplifters and stop them at the door. That’s probably illegal, and if it’s not will lead to accusations of racism.

          1. And I really appreciate your concern for me, even though I’m a cocksucker and all that.

            I do care for you Tonio. I didn’t call you a cocksucker. I called my contractor a cocksucker.

            There are many expletives that no longer mean what they originally meant. For instance, when I call someone a bastard, I’m not inferring that he’s fatherless. And when some one is a son of a bitch, I really don’t hold any animosity towards their mother. Those phrases mean something completely different now. You seem to have internalized cocksucker into a personal attack. (side question…has it been offensive to fellating women all these years?) While you have the right to be offended by anything, a) it’s not personal, b) its a figure of speech, c) I’m not going to play and d) you might consider that taking offense to common terminology may be harming your cause, as I take no issue with accepting homosexuals as equals, but I do with people telling me what words I can use. No offense, just sayin.

            you waltzed right past the problems with allowing the state to lock people away for decades for petty crimes.

            I don’t believe the state should lock people away for decades for petty crimes. I believe the state should lock people away for decades for REPEATED petty crimes.

            a registry of known shoplifters and stop them at the door.

            A burden innocent shop owners shouldn’t have to bear.

    5. Am I supposed to feel sorry for this shitbag?

      Under the new “libertarianism”, apparently we are.

  4. While a harsh penalty, none the less, as a ardent federalist I’m okay with it. Grime should have moved to Minnesota if he wanted to keep thieving.

    1. We don’t need more of those shitbags here.

    2. That relocation would necessitate one helluva unauthorized use of a moveable.

  5. Have a Snickers, man… you get a little klepto when you’re hungry.

    1. Everyone else is too shy to say so, but I appreciate your comment.

    2. CS has won the internet. If not for today, certainly for the morning. And that is my cue to go be a productive member of society. See y’all later!

    3. Gimme a break, officer!

  6. “Sugar, Larry told me you went sissy up at Casitas. You couldn’t do the time so you found yourself a big white boy to look after you. He said they call you ‘Sugar’ because you gave it out so sweet.”

    “Larry gave it at Casitas! Man, I was the fuckin’ boss jocker on my dorm! Larry’s the sissy! Larry gave it for candy bars!”

  7. Nola.com has described Louisiana as “the world’s prison capital,” with a per-capita incarcerated population “nearly five times Iran’s, 13 times China’s and 20 times Germany’s.”

    Freedom.

    1. Germany is the only one approaching a fair comparison. Iran and China execute people who are “problematic”. I also wouldn’t be surprised if China wasn’t running a lot of prisons “off the books”.

      I would be interested to know what Germany does differently, though.

      1. I would be surprised if China wasn’t/I wouldn’t be surprised if China was

      2. Sir, I put it to you that having an incarceration rate higher than either China or Iran makes it a very fair comparison. IOW, we’ve lost the moral high ground to criticize others about that.

        1. So executing people is better than imprisoning them?

          I furthermore remain unconvinced that either totalitarian regime is being honest with its incarceration numbers.

          1. I heard a story on NPR a while back on that very subject. According to anecdotal evidence there are undocumented jails all over China, and people disappear into them all the time.

          2. Mmmm…different issue.

          3. No, but apparently cutting off both this guys hands would have already happened by now over there which probably would have solved his future thieving.

            Obviously, I’m not for that. I just think it’s an insane comparison to make.Why do people take numbers put out by places like China as any kind of truth? You think they want foreigners taking a close look at any portion of their society? This goes double for Iran.

      3. China wasn’t upfront about their carbon emissions, for fuck’s sake, there’s no way in hell they’re accurately reporting their prison statistics.

  8. “Nola.com has described Louisiana as “the world’s prison capital,” with a per-capita incarcerated population “nearly five times Iran’s, 13 times China’s and 20 times Germany’s.””

    To be fair, it’s also the murder capital of America.

    1. I think Chicagoans are working hard to bring the title back to Illinois

      1. Well, good luck to them. Maybe they can recruit some Louisiana criminals to immigrate there.

  9. This is what happens in the sort of libertarian hellhole that the right-thinking people keep telling me Louisiana is.

    1. Can’t be, it’s filled with roads.

      1. Bad ones. Louisiana has few natural sources of aggregate.

        1. Pave ’em in gator skins. That’s what my libertopia would look like.

  10. Is there a threshold where society no longer has to tolerate repeated thefts by another?

    Just how many “petty” abuses have to be tolerated before it’s decided to put a decisive end to that person’s ability to do so?

    1. Take a hand. That’s what the Saudis do.

      1. Should make for a nice increase in his SSI checks. Branding would identify him as a habitual petty thief. It’s cheaper than one night in jail too.

    2. Repeatedly sending someone to prison for years at a time for said crimes isn’t “toleration”.

    3. I guess that depends on how many petty abuses he can commit before you personally are willing to kill him for it.

  11. Does he just have an uncontrollable sweet tooth, or was he selling candy bars not packaged for individual sale down on the street corner without a license?

    1. Good point. That’s almost as bad as selling loosies.

  12. There’s some good discussion in the comments, but someone who continues to be arrested for petty theft clearly thinks the risk is worth it.

    1. And seeing that his mental calculus is leading him to that conclusion reveals that this guy has mental problems. But if he thinks prison time is worth a candy bar, so be it. Though it’s incumbent upon the state that monopolized law and courts to make the punishment fit the crime.

      If the guy was repeatedly assaulting people after getting out of prison or there was some indication that he was a candy bar gnome hellbent on stealing all the world’s candy bars, then we can talk long prison terms.

      1. That raises a really good point. When does really bad decision making cross the line into mental illness or retardation? And how do we deal with those who habitually steal?

        1. Well, putting him up in a mental hospital for the rest of his life certainly ought to be less expensive than prison.

          1. Maybe, maybe not. Addressed that above. Plus, you then have the problem of using mental hospitals as dumping grounds for the people that society doesn’t want to deal with, but who are too sympathetic or not violent enough for society to want to send them to prison. Then you end up with things as they were back in the seventies when involuntary commitment was a growth industry.

        2. I’d opt for far-reaching ostracism in extreme cases. Reduce him to one tiny step above full on outlawry. Meaning he might have the law “protect him” from assault, murder, rape et cetera, just the basics. And other than that cast him out into the social wilderness with no eligibility for government benefits, permission slips, forced association laws (aka public accommodation laws) et cetera. He’ll either survive on charity or die a vagabond.

          1. Or he’ll survive by stealing from others, like real bandits used to do.

            1. And then he may earn a legitimately long prison sentence or even a bloody death. Stealing from others is not a long-term survival strategy unless you’re a government official. Moreover, he’s responsible for his own actions, being ostracized does not in any way or degree abrogate his responsibility not to victimize others.

              1. I kind of like that solution. Sure, it’s a bit of a sticky trap, but only one you fall into if you steal.

                1. It is always easier to decide the punishments for crimes you have the luxury of never committing.

                  The cheap option is to put him on community service, and if he screws that up back to the slammer with him.

                  You can’t cure stupid or crazy, and this guy is definitely one or both of those things. You could go full-blown medieval and give him a tattoo after the 20th offense that brands him as a thief, thus ensuring that store owners will be wary of him. If he can go five years without doing something retarded again, free tattoo removal. If you want to go slightly more 20th century, stick an RFID chip in him that sets off every store detector he’ll ever walk through.

      2. I think a lot of such criminals don’t HAVE a ‘mental calculus’. Whether this makes them an object of pity, or not, I don’t know.

        1. That’s probably true or at least they under-weight risk. The average person actually overweight risk, but the people I know who have been convicted of felonies often take needless risks: they do something risky that doesn’t have a better outcome than a less risky option. Perhaps the risk is actually a benefit to them – the thrill or adrenaline rush or whatever.

      3. Why does habitually committing property crimes mean he keeps getting the same punishment, but habitually assaulting someone may lead to progressively longer prison terms?

        I think a life sentence for stealing candy seems harsh, but I don’t know how one even gets arrested more than once a year for 20 years. Locking him up may cost a lot of money, but constantly locking him up and retrying him for new crimes would seemingly cost more.

  13. I seem to hear a lot about how Bobby Jindal is a real born again believing Christian. And if I am not mistaken, Louisiana is one of the states where the governor has commutation power. And Jindal was last I looked governor down there.

    I have really fucking had it with political Christians on both sides. I have had it with Progs who convince themselves that Jesus worshiped government. And I have also had it with holy roller Republicans like Jindal who are all about Jesus and being saved when they are campaigning but forget all about that once they are in office.

    There is no way any person who calls themselves a Christian could support sending a guy away for life for the crime of shoplifting. I don’t care how many crimes he had committed in the past. And Jindal doesn’t commute this sentence because doing so might cost him politically or he actually thinks it is just. Fuck him. How about someone take a stand that requires some courage for once instead of just using their religious beliefs as just another campaign prop?

    1. And Jindal was last I looked governor down there.

      Well, this is awkward…

      1. I guess he is not. I don’t keep score at home.

        The governor is some guy named Edwards. Fuck him too.

      2. It’s only been a few months, Nikki. How often do you look at the governorship of Louisiana?

        1. Yeah. I didn’t realize he didn’t run for re-election. I knew he ran for President for about a week. But I had forgotten he didn’t run for re-election or was even up for it.

          My mistake. I still doubt Jinsal would have commuted this guy, though in fairness we will never know.

          1. I didn’t realize he wasn’t in office either. On the bright side he’ll now be available for all of your college student exorcism needs.

          2. The real question, John, is WWTD? (What Would Trump Do)

    2. i suppose the best thing would just be for the store to sue him for the cost of the candy.

      1. The best thing would be to throw him in jail. He is a thief. The problem is that length of the sentence. It is absurd. And it is exactly the kind of injustice that the commutation power is supposed to cure but never does.

        1. I’d guess that jail is his most stable address. We really need flogging as an option.

          1. We throw people in cages for years or decades. And then turn around and pretend that we are somehow more humane and civilized than we were when we would flog people for crimes. I have never understood how Prison is somehow more human than corporal punishment. I would take a flogging over a prison sentence any day. And I suspect most people would agree.

            1. It depends if it’s ‘real flogging’ or ‘flogging lite’. ‘Real flogging’ actually scars you for life and has a pretty good chance of you dying. ‘Flogging lite’ is what you do to a horse to make it go faster. Which do you choose?

              Personally I suspect you’ve just read entirely too much Heinlein (e.g. Starship Troopers) over and beyond the daily recommended dosage. He seemed to think public floggings were perfectly awesome. I do wonder though, what exactly would the qualifications be for a government flogger? Do you need to actually be a sociopath or is that just a bonus?

              1. I don’t think they are great at all. And I haven’t read much Heinlein. I just know how horrible prisons are. Neither solution is “good” but there isn’t a good solution. Some people are threats to society such that the only answer is to lock them up and remove them from society. Most people in prison do not fit that description. I would never get rid of prisons but I think some for of corporal punishment for crimes that don’t involve death or serious bodily injury or a habitual offender is likely more humane, cheaper and just as or more effective than what we are doing now.

      2. Add punitive damages ontop of it and yeah. Of course he’d be a deadbeat that would be unable to cope with those damages, but at a certain point, someone being ostracized from society and dying under an overpass is just natural selection for the good of humanity.

        1. What would be the point of punitive damages? He can’t afford $31 for candy. Once the civil suit rules in the store’s favor, then what? What happens to people who can’t pay their debts, ever?

          1. What happens to people who can’t pay their debts, ever?

            Careful, you’re getting awfully close to suggesting debtors’ prison, which will summon JFree and his inane blather.

          2. It’s like you decided to stop reading my post after the first eight words before responding with objections that I clearly covered.

            1. So death in an underpass is your solution. Fair enough, but then why wait? Should the owner of the store be allowed to kill him?

              1. Fair enough, but then why wait?

                Because it’s a severe, yet cost effective punishment.

                Should the owner of the store be allowed to kill him?

                That doesn’t seem very proportional for a box of candy bars.

                1. If you’re willing to let the guy die out in the cold, wouldn’t it be more humane to just shoot him right then? Why is suffering for years before eventually dying better than being thrown in jail? Just because of money?

                  Also, why would the guy stop being a thief just because he’s been ostracized? What recourse does his next victim have? Is it just that you want him to die but you’re too squeamish about it?

                  1. If you’re willing to let the guy die out in the cold, wouldn’t it be more humane to just shoot him right then?

                    Would it? With life there is possibility that he could survive and perhaps at some point emerge from his outlawry intact and reformed. If the guy is such a scumbag that no one would voluntarily feed him, house him or make sure he’s warm in the winter then he’s obviously a net loss to society. A death sentence over some candy bars isn’t exactly proportional, though it’s conceivable that under some circumstances it would be. Like if it was a strong arm robbery, or an armed robbery or had some kind of violent component.

                    Why is suffering for years before eventually dying better than being thrown in jail?

                    1) Because I, as an uninterested third party, nor the shop owner himself is taxed to pay for the criminal’s incarceration. 2) Because he would have a good incentive to get his shit together once society is no longer subsidizing him 3) Because sometimes the only purpose behind the wretched existence of a person like this to serve as a warning to others.

                    Also, why would the guy stop being a thief just because he’s been ostracized?

                    Maybe he would, maybe he wouldn’t. Why would I stop speeding just because I got speeding ticket? For some people, that approach will work, for others it won’t. The upside is that if it won’t work for him, he’ll earn his death or his lifetime prison sentence.

                    1. What recourse does his next victim have?

                      Once again, that’s contingent on the crime and the circumstances. Assuming he’s already been deemed a sort of outlaw, it might very well be reasonable to lower the standards by which it would be acceptable to shoot him in defense of your precious candy bars, if that’s something you could live with.

                      Is it just that you want him to die but you’re too squeamish about it?

                      It’s that I care about justice and I’m not satisfied with one size fits all justice system. Certainly not mandatory minimums as decreed by statute. At some point the best punishment for violators of laws (that have legitimate victims) is to start peeling away the benefits that person receives from the law.

                    2. And at some point, it seems, it will be acceptable to kill such a person who has committed so many crimes that they’ve run out of protection by the law. Someone who has spent let’s say the past 20 years committing crimes of every sort.

                      IMO, if you’re going to differentiate violent and nonviolent crimes then you need to differentiate punishment. And then you’re going to need to work out how much money society has to be on the hook for to “treat” nonviolent offenders.

                    3. Someone who has spent let’s say the past 20 years committing crimes of every sort.

                      Is this guy guilty of murder, rape, assault, war crimes? Certainly if he were guilty of crimes of every sort. Though in this case I thought this guy had been convicted of a string of petty thefts and maybe some “drug crimes”. Probably not acceptable to put him on the lethal injection table.

                      if you’re going to differentiate violent and nonviolent crimes then you need to differentiate punishment.

                      Which is what I’ve been saying all up and down this thread.

                      And then you’re going to need to work out how much money society has to be on the hook for to “treat” nonviolent offenders.

                      Ideally none. But I’m not looking to delve into a deeper discussion about crime an punishment in a polycentric justice system.

          3. I’m not sure it’s been established that he can’t afford it.

    3. I don’t think Republican politicians are generally a bigoted bunch… on the national level, they’re essentially progressives (well, minus the racism against whites). But they almost certainly recognize that a segment of their base, large enough to make or break elections, is pretty fucking racist. A Harding-esque gesture of goodwill just wouldn’t go over well with these people, whatever the context.

    4. Jindal is a Catholic. “Born again” is not really part of that faith’s belief system.

  14. obscenity and distribution of false drugs.”

    I believe it involved this

    1. Send women a Dick pic sometime. They love it.

  15. unauthorized use of a moveable

    What the fuck is this?

  16. Restitution and community service

    Exactly. To be honest, I don’t know the doctrinaire “Libertarian” position on work gangs, but let this guy pick up trash on the side of the road for a few days for some small wage, and make him pay the store back.

    I don’t really give a shit about “community service” as long as the minor miscreant is directed to repay his victim by the sweat of his brow.

    1. Restitution should be the default punishment, not incarceration or court fees or even community service. It helps make victims whole, it doesn’t enrich the state, and it might even better reform offenders than throwing them in cages.

  17. This is why jury nullification is being ever more needed. If applying the law strictly and without bias produces this kind of injustice, the laws themselves need to begin being judged by juries.

  18. Bah. Even considering those vague assertions by the Cannizzaro on the aggregate, and scummy as the shop lifter is, this does not add up to life in prison – with all due respect to FdA who I get where he’s coming from. Still, he didn’t take a life FFS and maybe if the god damn system was more caring they’d actually look for ways to rehab him.

    Just my take.

    1. by Cannizzaro. Was gonna write by the DA but switched to his name.

    2. And it almost assuredly won’t add up to life in prison.

  19. “Isn’t this a little over the top?”

    Isn’t 24 arrests in 20 years a little “over the top”? At what point can society say, “Enough!”? The level of repeated malfeasance at which you say that can be disputed/discussed, but that there SHOULD be such a point is undeniable.

    1. I don’t think anyone would dispute this. I think it’s the ‘life sentence’ part. Shit, do 10 years or something. Life? People get out for waaaayyyy worst crimes.

      E.g. Look up Karla Homolka.

    2. If we had a society where being arrested meant you had actually committed a crime, I would agree with you. The problem is that we arrest people for administrative things, failing to pay a fine, not having the right paperwork on your car, breaking this or that local ordinance. We never just punish someone and move on. We forever try to “rehabilitate them” by placing restrictions on their behavior outside of jail or by endlessly finning people. So, guys like this, who are admittedly complete screw ups who lack the ability to fully comprehend cause and effect, never get out of the system.

      I bet you anything a good number of those arrests were for not following the instructions necessary to get out of the system after committing an initial crime. We would be better off to go back to flogging. It would have more of a deterrent effect for guys like this than jail, it would be cheaper, and it would get the government out of the business of trying to manage offender’s lives.

      1. Most people fail to realize that every crime is punishable by jail. Those ‘fees’ and ‘fines’ are bribery so that the state doesn’t lock you up for failing to use your blinker that one time.

        The poor know this because they can’t afford all of the ‘fines’ and ‘fees’ and thus they sit it out in jail whereas, it would seem, a vast portion of the ‘middle class’ is completely unaware of this fact of life.

  20. Ok, I agree with most of you that some of the crimes (unauthorized use of a moveable, drug paraphernalia, selling false drugs, etc) are bogus.
    But the article stated he was convicted of theft 5 times previously. So in all fairness, he isn’t going to prison for 20 years “for a Snicker’s bar”. It is because, if he is convicted, this will be the 6th time for theft. Which is a legitimate crime.
    I am not a fan of mandatory minimums, but at some point, it is obvious that the small punishments aren’t stopping him. Certainly there are other possibile remedies to be looked at. But, WTF?

    1. That is a fair point. I would say two things in response. First, why does the guy’s inability to learn justify an unjust sentence? We could also stop him from stealing by executing him. I mean he has had six chances. Of course executing him is horribly harsh. But so is sticking him in prison for life. Execution is no doubt worse but I don’t see how life in prison is that much better. Both are extremely harsh measures for dealing with a pattern of low level criminal behavior. Perhaps, living with endlessly repeat offenders is a price we have to pay to avoid having an unjust and harsh criminal system?

      Second, maybe the fact that jail isn’t deterring this guy says something about the usefulness of prison in dealing with career criminals. Rather than just giving up and locking him up forever, maybe we should consider other punishments besides jail? Maybe corporal punishments are not as unjust or crazy as we have convinced ourselves they are.

  21. The mandatory minimum laws were set up to prevent racist white judges from imposing harsh sentences.

    The same people that demanded them are now demanding they be abolished–often to prevent racist white judges from imposing harsh sentences.

    Yo-yo anyone?

    1. The mandatory minimum laws were set up to prevent racist white judges from imposing harsh sentences.

      What?

      Run through the logic for me.

      The racist white judges were going to impose a harsh 5-year sentence, so instead we have to impose a lenient 10-year sentence for racial justice.

      Yeah, I’m not seeing it.

    2. The mandatory minimum laws were set up to prevent racist white judges from imposing harsh sentences.

      I thought they were introduced for the opposite reason – that “soft-on-crime” judges were giving light sentences for (often more perceived than actual) heinous offenses, and legislatures wanted to restrict their discretion.

      1. It was that Derp. Azathoth has it backwards. But it wasn’t just that. It was also the desire to stick it to the odd rich white guy who came through the system. To ensure that they got treated like everyone else. Minimum Mandatory Sentences were this horrible confluence of conservative fear of soft on crime judges and Progressive class envy and hatred.

  22. When talking about the cost of locking this guy up for a while compared to the cost of his crimes, Bastiat still applies here. The cost of the crimes of a habitual offender go far beyond the total value of his thefts.

    First off, he steals what’s available. Just because it’s $31 this time, doesn’t mean it won’t be $1,200 if the opportunity arises. Then there’s the cost to businesses of having to accommodate the increased chances of property theft (perceived or real) of a system where petty criminals like this are lightly or never punished because it costs the state too much to do otherwise. Then there’s the cost to the community of reducing the disincentives for everyone else to petty crime. Then there’s the added cost to the community of a feeling that crime in general has increased because of all of this petty lawlessness.

    Life in prison is, of course, a terrible solution if for no other reason than the state can not in any way be trusted to hand out such punishments for petty crime, regardless of circumstances. That’s a power they’re going to abuse the shit out of if you give it to them.

    But wanting to stop this guy from continuing to do what he’s been doing is not an overreaction in any way. This sort of behavior does have significant costs to the public.

    1. It does. And we can’t have a society where we don’t do anything. At the same time, there is a limit to what is morally right to do to stop theft. In Saudi Arabia they chop off your hand for even minor theft and chop off your head for more serious theft. And from what I have been told there is almost no danger of having something stolen. People think nothing of walking around with tens of thousands of dollars in cash or leaving the keys in their car. That, however, doesn’t make the Saudi system any less unjust.

      There isn’t really a “right” answer here. It is just a trade off. The less harsh your system is, the less crime you are likely to have. It is just a question of how much crime bothers you versus how much harsh punishments bother you.

  23. So what do you do when it’s ridiculous to put someone in prison for life for non-violently stealing candy bars, but you would rather not have to go through this rigmarole another 20 times?

    Get (mildly) medieval. Bring back the stocks and pelt the guy with candy bars — then slap him with community service or fines. Now if the guy has a mental health issue I might hold back on this treatment, but if he’s perfectly well-adjusted, get him in there. I have no sympathy for him if he feels humiliated — serves him right. Prison hasn’t knocked sense into him, so maybe shame will. And it’s far better treatment than what he’ll get in even just a year of incarceration.

  24. Can’t help but think of Marty McFly telling his infant Uncle Joey, “Better get used to those bars kid.”

  25. 24 arrests in the past 20 years? So basically they did nothing to him the first 24 times but he was supposed to learn his lesson from that. If they would have put the fucker out picking up garbage on the side of the road 50 hours a week for 2 years each one of those arrest maybe by the 2nd or 3rd he might have consider getting a paying job instead of stealing. Incentives.

  26. Leaving the guy loose to continue a life of petty crime and housing him indefinitely at public expense are both bad options. What’s unique about New Orleans are the daily reminders that you aren’t quite living in the USA, but rather some Americanized version of a third world country. Blacks continue to be second class citizens, more so than elsewhere, but more passive about it. I lived there for 7 years and had some great times, but it clearly was no place to run a business or grow old. Things haven’t changed.

    1. How are blacks second class citizens? They’re the majority in the city by a big margin, before Katrina it was overwhelming. I’m sure their earnings accurately reflects their marketable skills like everyone else. For an Americanized 3rd world country feel you should check out uptown NYC. Go into a bodega in the middle of a workday where no one speaks english, but everyone is paying with food stamps.

  27. Dont do the crime, if you cant to the time!

    http://www.Web-Privacy.tk

  28. Look, I don’t like these sorts of statutes any more than the next guy…but the title of the piece is intentionally misleading (and therefor an exercise in dishonesty). The sentence in question was not simply the result “stealing candy bars”. This is the sort of dumbing down of the facts that I expect from young children and the mainstream media.

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