Central Valley
Central Valley
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Indybay Feature
Life In Prison for Stealing Groceries
by rick
Wednesday Apr 6th, 2005 8:46 PM
A 50-year-old man with a lengthy criminal history could spend the rest of his life in prison for stealing a basket of groceries in 2003, a judge ordered Tuesday.
A 50-year-old man with a lengthy criminal history could spend the rest of his life in prison for stealing a basket of groceries in 2003, a judge ordered Tuesday.

Kern County Superior Court Judge Kenneth C. Twisselman III sentenced Mark Eddie McKenzie to 27 years to life in prison after he was convicted of a petty theft.

McKenzie had been previously sentenced to the same term, but an appeals court ruled that he couldn't be convicted of committing a petty theft and for attempted possession of stolen property for one act.

The appeals court sent the case back to Kern County Superior Court for resentencing.

McKenzie was given the term of 27 years to life because that was his third strike under California's three-strikes law.

Under this law, a person who racks up a third felony may be sentenced to life in prison.

Prosecutors in many counties across California have decided to pursue a third strike on a case-by-case basis.

Dan Sparks, the second in command under Kern County District Attorney Ed Jagels, said his office pursues life in prison on any possible third-strike offense, even nonviolent.

"We do not see any room in the language of the law to exercise ... discretion," Sparks said.

McKenzie's attorney Nancy Sharp disagreed with the policy.

"I don't think it's a good way to approach the policy," Sharp said. "It's a mindless policy. It allows people to do horrible things because it's policy. I think we should expect more from our judges and from the prosecution."

Deputy District Attorney Jessica Hartnett, who was the prosecutor in the sentencing, said life in prison was justified.

"This man had a prior record of violence," Hartnett said. "He was also a recidivist."

She noted an array of offenses dating back from 1975 including burglary, drug, and firearms crimes. The strikes were given for assault with a firearm in 1983 and committing a lewd and lascivious act with a child under the age of 14 in 1988.

Sharp disagreed.

"It's immoral to send a person to life in prison for stealing groceries no matter what his history," Sharp said.

She was hoping that the judge would have shown leniency on the case.

"There is no justice when a man can get more time for stealing groceries than for murdering somebody," Sharp said.
by rick
Wednesday Apr 6th, 2005 8:58 PM
Here is the link to the source:
by Steve
Thursday Apr 7th, 2005 10:09 AM
The FACTS in this case are that this person is a career criminal. No matter how many time he has been arrested, convicted, imprisoned, and released, he returns to a life of crime. The reason for Three Stirkes was to remove parasites like this from our midst. It's working just fine.
by Think For Yourself
Thursday Apr 7th, 2005 11:09 AM
The fact remains, career criminal or not, that the spirit of the three strikes law was to incarcerate violent offenders. Also, the spirit of criminal justice is that the punishment fits the crime, with reasonable allowances/enhancement already in the law for 'career criminals' before the three strikes law was put into effect. This is overboard.
by Steve
Thursday Apr 7th, 2005 12:40 PM
The purpose of the law was to incarcerate career criminals and those who were simply not deterred by endless stints in jail. Of course it applies to violent crime, but no only to violent crime. The idea is that someone who refuses to live by our social rules will be removed from our society. The Greeks used to ostracize people. We just put them in jail. Works for me.
by Think For Yourself
Thursday Apr 7th, 2005 1:44 PM
Once again, though, that was not the intent and/or discussion around the three strikes law. It has been hijacked and is now used to address the 'career criminal' by prosecuters, but as I said before: there were already opportunity for enhanced sentencing in place. A life sentence should be earned by a very serious crime, not shoplifting, even if this person is a sleazebag. That is the marker of a more civilized society, that we even treat people with less desirable behavior fairly--rather than giving them a life sentence for, essentially, crimes they have already been convicted of and served time for.
by 1
Saturday Apr 9th, 2005 11:00 AM
Your all wrong, we need less to NO Laws.
by zippity
Sunday May 8th, 2005 1:27 AM
Life imprisonment, otherwise known as the slow death sentence is being applied to a man with a bad record. No matter what your argument is, there's no justification for handing out life sentences for a bag of groceries. We're all flawed individuals and we make bad decisions from time to time. Some people are considerably less lucky and early on those mistakes mean incarceration. What you have to understand is that once you've been incarcerated EVERYTHING changes for you. Prison is not a place of reform, it is used for warehousing undesirables and cheap to free labor without any of the drawbacks of organized labor. When prisoners are released if they've learned nothing of how to get a better status in society, infact they've been tainted with a record which follows them wherever they try to get jobs which means they'll end up working lower income jobs that they could get before. If one is not making enough to make ends meet and you have spent years learning all the tricks of the trade from other convicted criminals chances are that one will find themselves committing crimes which can have bigger pay offs if you're not caught. But people are caught, all the time, they re-enter jail and serve another sentence and this is what politicos like to call "recitivism" the revolving door of the prison industry. Recitivism is one of the virulant phenomonae in politics today and it's not getting better, the more laws that are passed the more recitivism we're seeing and nothing is curbing it. The US has the largest prison population in the world(2.5 million people) and it achieved at record speeds , 35 years ago there were only about 100,000-200,000 prisoners. Prisons are the modern day equivelent of slavery and like slavery they need to be abolished, the first thing we can do to curb prison populations is by working for and demanding rehabillitative services rather than cells for convicted criminals(most of whom are non violent offenders). A more radical approach would be to actually address the social and economic factors that produce criminals and the political institutions which exploits them.

prison abolition now!freedom for all prisoners!

by karl roenfanz ( rosey )
(k_rosey48 [at] Sunday Jun 5th, 2005 6:43 AM
lets see i'm in my fifties, starving, if i steal groceries a few times i can have a roof over my head, heat in the winter, a.c. in the summer, food, clothing, all the nice things in life, and don't have to worrie about getting run over by some damn drunk? hey ! thats a lot better than being a homeless vet!

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