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Crime: the theft of four cookies from a restaurant. Punishment: jail for 25 years to life
June 20, 2001 2:32 AM   Subscribe

Crime: the theft of four cookies from a restaurant. Punishment: jail for 25 years to life Thank God he didn't steal a steak.
posted by matteo (39 comments total)

 
Let him rot in jail. Breaking and entering is not something that society should just ignore. There was another case in which a guy stole a bicycle and faced life in prison. It turns out the guy stole it from a little girl at gunpoint. The little girl even spoke in his defense in court. She should have been given a spanking for that. I'm sick of people stealing things. I also think Charlie should have had his hands cut off for stealing the fizzy lifting drink from Mr. Wonka, so it is possible that I've spent way too much time working with the public.
posted by hwright at 3:15 AM on June 20, 2001


All of a sudden I feel like breaking out into a song from Les Miserables.
posted by lia at 3:17 AM on June 20, 2001


From the article:

The US jails 25% of all prisoners in the world although it accounts for only 5% of the world's population. There are 2m people in US jails, 400,000 of them for drug offences and 70% of them from racial minorities.
posted by pracowity at 3:49 AM on June 20, 2001


how dare he kidnap and forceably assault an innocent cookie with his mouth! It's time to get tough in this country. We need judges who arent afraid to use the gavel.
posted by brucec at 4:36 AM on June 20, 2001


Maybe it's just me, but I find it hard to see how a crime like this one, with so little at stake, should lead to putting this "homeless alcoholic" guy away for that length of time? How does that work? I realise there is a point that is being made, but this surely takes the biscuit (sorry)...

Do we think that we are making the streets a safer place? I wonder how many cookies you could buy with the money that will be spent on prison costs?
posted by boomtish at 5:15 AM on June 20, 2001


""A safe-cracker who cracks an empty safe is nonetheless a safe-cracker," said Justice David Sills in a unanimous judgment." What? There was a safe? I wonder where he learned to break into one. Still sounds kinda harsh.

See? You let liberal pinko commies rule California and you get innocent street bums in jail for life sentences while letting drug dealers get away! Where's the compassion!?

The US jails 25% of all prisoners in the world although it accounts for only 5% of the world's population. There are 2m people in US jails, 400,000 of them for drug offences and 70% of them from racial minorities.

What about comparing the numbers to just Europe?
posted by tiaka at 5:24 AM on June 20, 2001


Has anyone thought that the "homeless alcoholic" might actually live LONGER in prison than back out on the street?
He might get better meals, shelter, a bed and state-supplied health care? Maybe they are doing him a favour! In fact, he should be thankful that the compassionate judge sentenced him to 25 years to life. He might actually make it to 25 years in prison, but he probably would be dead by then on the street.

Heck, that judge is doing him a favour!

Just kidding.
posted by Grum at 5:27 AM on June 20, 2001


Of course, when you have cookie stealing bumped up to 25 years, you have to move other things up as well to compensate...such as drive by shootings.
posted by samsara at 6:01 AM on June 20, 2001


He's not really being jailed for stealing cookies. He's being jailed for the two other previous offenses plus breaking into said establishment. That said, it only makes the sentence seem less excessive but by no means warranted. Seems like this 'three strikes' law should have a 'two for one' sort of deal where the third offense must be of greater or at least equal to the first two in order to warrant this kind of jail time.
posted by srw12 at 6:22 AM on June 20, 2001


"A safe-cracker who cracks an empty safe is nonetheless a safe-cracker," said Justice David Sills in a unanimous judgment.

Don't we make a distinction between "murder" and "attempted murder"?
posted by jeb at 6:33 AM on June 20, 2001


How many first-time violent criminals are being released early to make room for guys like Weber? He only had to serve two years on his first two offenses (described here).
posted by rcade at 6:36 AM on June 20, 2001


Why are we arresting a guy for stealing cookies? Every time I turn around I'm getting FREE cookies.
posted by DBAPaul at 6:55 AM on June 20, 2001


Not a bad sentence. In Texas they would execute him.
posted by Postroad at 6:58 AM on June 20, 2001


Seems like this 'three strikes' law should have a 'two for one' sort of deal where the third offense must be of greater or at least equal to the first two in order to warrant this kind of jail time.

I think the bigger issue has to do with the mere presence of mandatory sentencing laws that force judges to send people to prison regardless of the crime committed. Mandatory sentencing exists only to make the legislators that craft and vote for these laws appear to be "tough on crime". Judges either have no room to apply a more reasonable sentence, or have the option but choose not to exercise it for the same reasons that legislators pass said laws. In the end, our judicial system is impoverished because thinking and rationality are removed from the process.
posted by Avogadro at 7:14 AM on June 20, 2001


The case is the most extreme example of California's three strikes law since a man was jailed for 25 years in 1994 for grabbing a slice of pizza from some children.

California: Commit a murder and flee the police on live TV, no problem.
Mess with our food supply, and we'll catch you, scumbucket.
posted by brucec at 7:14 AM on June 20, 2001


He would not be spending the rest of his life in jail "because of four cookies." Career criminals do not steal cookies for a living. The law and what he was risking was clear. I'd rather the straw that broke the camel's back be just a straw, instead of something more serious. Better it be a cookie than my car or my house or my wallet or my health. Lock him up. End of story.
posted by fleener at 7:19 AM on June 20, 2001


I'm getting a bit bored of all these "wacky Americans" stories. Especially because their wackiness seems to be getting less and less lovable.
posted by Mocata at 7:23 AM on June 20, 2001


Mocata-go to your graphic art area and create Americas' wackiest stories. Since the pool of hilarity is drying up try history. perhaps a prisoner exchange program. U.K. can turn us into new Australia, then you can have some of our prisoners. wait...they may run the country after a while just like Australia, well back to the forum.
posted by clavdivs at 7:32 AM on June 20, 2001


He's not really being jailed for stealing cookies. He's being jailed for the two other previous offenses plus breaking into said establishment.

Presumably, he was already punished for the prior two offenses. It's illegal and unconstitutional to punish someone twice for the same offense. He is being jailed for stealing four cookies.
posted by jpoulos at 7:36 AM on June 20, 2001


Isn't he actually being jailed for breaking and entering also? He went in through a vent. It's not like he fell in through the front door. His intent was to steal or vandalize. It is a crime, after all.

And to hear the comments here tell the story, it's like he ate a cookie or two out of those bins at the supermarket without paying for them.
posted by fnirt at 7:46 AM on June 20, 2001


Presumably, he was already punished for the prior two offenses. It's illegal and unconstitutional to punish someone twice for the same offense. He is being jailed for stealing four cookies.

Yes but prior convictions are used all the time in determining sentences. maybe I should have said that he was being jailed as much for the pattern of behavior as for this latest offense. the 'three strikes' rule is merely a specific guideline for already done quite a bit. Of course, it frighteningly assumes that, after a mere three offenses, rehabilitation won't happen. My over all point was, and is, to really believe that He is being jailed for stealing four cookies seems somewhat foolish to me.
posted by srw12 at 7:53 AM on June 20, 2001


Good thing he didn't steal any Manbeef.
posted by Succa at 7:59 AM on June 20, 2001


> What about comparing the numbers to just Europe?

Here's what I found in a quick google.

Stuff like this:

"the number of men and women behind bars in the U.S. at the end of 1999 exceeded two million and the rate of incarceration had reached 690 inmates per 100,000 residents-a rate Human Rights Watch believed to be the highest in the world (with the exception of Rwanda)."

And this:

"England and Wales however still retain their place near the top of the European imprisonment league with 125 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants compared with a European Union average of 87 prisoners per 100,000 population. "
posted by pracowity at 8:02 AM on June 20, 2001


Slow news day? This is an interesting example of how to invent an injustice by creatively misreporting the news.

Compare the lead paragraph ("His offence was the theft of four cookies from a restaurant. His punishment was jail for 25 years to life.") with some minor, almost irrelevent details mentioned later:
  1. He broke into the restaurant and left when the alarm went off.
  2. "Weber's previous offences include burglary, assault with a firearm and receiving stolen goods"
  3. The jail term didn't come from stealing the cookies, it came from the previous felonies he commited. If this had been a first offense he would have gotten a more lenient sentence, just like he did the first two times.
I guess "Man convicted of breaking and entering, burglary and assault sentenced to long jail-term" wouldn't sound nearly inflamatory enough, even if it would, unlike the current headline, be accurate.
posted by adamsc at 8:34 AM on June 20, 2001


Um, he was sentenced for burglary and assualt years ago, Adamsc, and not in this case. You are misrepresenting the case also. The guy received a 25 year sentence for breaking and entering. In essence, he stole nothing.
So he may die in prison because this country is filled with paranoid morons who are afraid a homeless guy looking for food might steal their car stereo.
posted by Doug at 9:10 AM on June 20, 2001


Let him rot in jail.

hwright gets the First Annual Unofficial Metafilter Mr. Toughie Authoritarian-Via-Pixels Award. Let 'em rot in jail. Cut off their hands. Blah blah. I'm sick of that s***, and glad to see that no one else went for it. Before, I thought it was only about serious, serious cases of the violent crime. Now it's just about proving yourself tuff, at least among a certain few.

prawcity: Posted a story about the masses-in-prison topic yesterday, and no one paid attention to it (a shame, since the story and particularly a linked study released this month contain plenty of info as to why rehabilitation doesn't work -- it's hardly being tried now). Maybe a few people read it, but no one commented on it. Which shows me, I guess, that only the most sensationalistic stories attract a crowd, particularly the "cut off their hands" sorts, who then everyone feels a need (understandable) to react to. You get millions more people in jail for lesser offenses, without much in the way of rehab or parole officer assistance afterward or employment, you end up . . . well, sheesh, you can figure it out.
posted by raysmj at 9:31 AM on June 20, 2001


clavdivs - after two your post remains inscrutable to me. But I enjoyed it anyway.
posted by Mocata at 9:43 AM on June 20, 2001


I think some of you are missing the point here. If you don't want to go to jail, don't steal. I don't care if it's cars or cookies. And for Christsakes, this was his third offense! Please don't try to tell me this is a useful member of society...
posted by fusinski at 9:47 AM on June 20, 2001


No, but even I (Mr. Fry 'Em! Fry 'Em! Fry 'Em!) think this is excessive. I think the 3 strikes law should apply to violent crime, not dumb stuff like breaking and entering (which isnt to mean he shouldn't serve some time)
posted by owillis at 10:03 AM on June 20, 2001


Lady justice should not be holding a scale but a pendulum. Punishment appears to swing to far towards slaps on the wrist and laws are passed to change the momentum. Now it swings to far towards unjustly tough punishments. I hope the swing is not so great that is shatters the fulcrum but I fear it could.
posted by Mick at 10:11 AM on June 20, 2001


<tangent>
Please don't try to tell me this is a useful member of society...

Since when is utility a measure of whether someone should be imprisoned or free?
</tangent>
posted by Avogadro at 10:19 AM on June 20, 2001


6.25 years for each cookie. Sounds about right, especially if they were really, really good cookies.
posted by bilco at 12:03 PM on June 20, 2001


bilco: I didn't consider that. If they were peanut butter (especially the warm-fresh-from-the-oven kind) I'd favor life with no possibility for parole!!
posted by srw12 at 12:35 PM on June 20, 2001


raysmj: Before you flame people you should brush up on your reading comprehension skills. The sarcasm in my post was pretty obvious, I mean do you seriously think I meant any of it? The fizzy lifting drink was a reference to Charlie and the Chocolate factory. The juxtaposition of an extreme sentence and a fictional event in a children's story should have suggested that the opinion wasn't meant to be taken literally. Obviously my joke fell flat, but assuming my intent to be the opposite of what it really was, and then flaming me for it is pretty ridiculous.
posted by hwright at 7:43 AM on June 21, 2001


fusinskis correct. He's a thief(man in article not Mr. Fusinkski.) Moacta, no offense, just nudging and fussing.after two?-in time or number of comments?hwwright-you see the genius of Dahls Fizzy LIFTING drinks. Chuck lifted the soda and almost paid for it with his life and grandpa joes. At best ,when one commits anoffence, one weighs the maximum penalty by LAW. We seldom take into account that our actions must standup to Justice....I.E. Who would think lifting fizzy lifting drinks could cause death? I understood your point(though my comprehension should provide no comfort) and thought it very good.....it was a joke? perhaps you made your point after all. People will jump when one John Waynes' a subject. I dont let this affect me when I see an alliteration.
posted by clavdivs at 8:49 AM on June 21, 2001


hwright: A bit too serious-sounding at the top, after a long week. Sorry. But it's all over now. See: 75 percent of the posts that followed in "jail" threads.
posted by raysmj at 9:35 AM on June 21, 2001


raysmj: I don't know how long people keep reading old threads, but if it is of any help, my apologies to you as well. I made a mean spirited comment ("reading comprehension abilities") that was unwarranted. Funny how issues like this (three strikes laws) can produce such an emotional response. Maybe it's because there really isn't an easy rational solution. At least not one that I see.
posted by hwright at 5:27 PM on June 21, 2001


Doug - you missed my point. He did not receive a 25 year sentence for just breaking and entering. He received it for repeatedly committing felonies. My point simply that the headline made this sound like something from Les Miserables and would have been far less sensationalistic had it be something like "Repeate felon sentenced to 25 years".
posted by adamsc at 3:30 PM on June 26, 2001


By saying that the three strikes law should be restricted to violent felons is rather scary. This guy committed a crime with a firearm. That counts as violent - he had a propensity toward it. So rather than jail him under the three strikes law for the act of breaking and entering, it seems that we should've waited until he did something violent? I'm sure that the victim of his next violent crime would have been very glad to know that their assailant had a lifelong history of breaking the law, but was spared 25 years in prison because he didn't have enough violent crimes in his lengthy record.
posted by Dreama at 5:05 PM on June 26, 2001


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