Cheryl Lidel was sexually assaulted as a young girl, and turned to drugs to cope. In 2010, a bad heroin withdrawal sent her to a local Subway, where she took money from the register. She then went to buy more drugs.
Did she get help with drug addiction? No – she got life in prison.
Starting in California in the 1990s “three strikes laws” made the imprisonment rate for African-Americans skyrocket within just a couple years. Essentially, these laws mean that if people commit three felonies, they’ll spend the rest of their lives in prison.
What kinds of felonies classify?
Leandro Andrade was a 37-year-old who needed help with substance abuse – instead, he got put away for LIFE for stealing some children’s movies for his nieces. He didn’t even have a weapon on him – but those were his last two “strikes.”
This type of story is unfortunately common.
What these three people needed was help with their problems or money for survival – not to die alone in a cell. The real issue here is poverty – giving people a life sentence for survival crimes doesn't solve that problem!