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How does petty theft land a man in prison for life?

According to the United States Department of Justice, the state of Louisiana ranks the highest in the country in the rate of incarcerations. Before you start congratulating your own state, know that Florida sits firmly in the number seven spot on that dubious list--and that's in a country that, by percentage, puts more people behind bars than any other in the world.

A Louisiana man has been put in prison for life for a simple case of petty theft, in a story that reads like it could have come from the Sunshine State.

The man has an extensive list of criminal convictions to be sure, but not one is a violent crime. He's an admitted heroin addict in need of help. One night, in a fit of desperation, he made the regrettable decision to team up with another addict friend, who entered a home and stole a baseball card collection worth $80 and a debit card which was eventually used to make some purchases at a few gas station convenience stores.

There was no evidence he had ever entered the home. But the man's friend, while testifying in the case, made an about-face after speaking with public defenders during a break in the trial. He changed his story, saying he had done nothing and the man had done everything.

His friend, a white man from a successful family, got six years and served only three. The man, an African-American male, may spend the rest of his years on earth in prison thanks to what may have perhaps been an overzealous District Attorney and a system that sometimes gets it wrong.

Some on the jury were appalled at the sentence that was handed down and even voiced their outrage with reporters when they learned the news.

The man has appealed and now his fate rests with the legal system.

This complex and bizarre case is proof that justice isn't always guaranteed and having a Florida attorney to fight for you may make all the difference in the world.

Source:, "Life in prison for simple burglary?" Mike Perlstein, April 29, 2014

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