Last week, we reported the findings of a shocking study conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union. Researchers found that 3,200 inmates are currently serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes. Among them is a man who is serving life in prison for stealing a $159 jacket.
Jackson, 53, is one of 3,281 prisoners in America serving life sentences with no chance of parole for non-violent crimes. Some, like him, were given the most extreme punishment short of execution for shoplifting; one was condemned to die in prison for siphoning petrol from a truck; another for stealing tools from a tool shed; yet another for attempting to cash a stolen cheque.
“It has been very hard for me,” Jackson wrote to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as part of its new report on life without parole for non-violent offenders. “I know that for my crime I had to do some time, but a life sentence for a jacket value at $159. I have met people here whose crimes are a lot badder with way less time.”
In 1996, Jackson took a jacket from the Maison Blanche department store in New Orleans without paying for it. When he was captured by a security guard, he told him that he “just needed another jacket, man.”
He was convicted under Lousiana’s “three-strike law,” one that imposes harsher sentences for repeat offenders no matter what the crime.
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