Magazine article Insight on the News

High Court Will Hear Three-Strikes Case. (Law)

Magazine article Insight on the News

High Court Will Hear Three-Strikes Case. (Law)

Article excerpt

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments next term on the constitutionality of California's "three-strikes-and-you're-out" law. At issue before the justices is whether the law is so draconian that it violates the Eighth Amendment's ban against cruel and unusual punishment.

The underlying case involves a petty thief whose third strike involved two crimes of shoplifting, punished with two consecutive 25-years-to-life terms under the provisions of the state law. The court record of the case reads like a study in haplessness.

Leandro Andrade and a female companion entered a Kmart store in Ontario, Calif., on Nov. 4, 1995. "Andrade looked around, selected some videotapes and stuffed them inside his trousers," reads the state's petition to the Supreme Court. He made it only as far as the sidewalk in front of the store before being stopped by security personnel. The combined value of the merchandise: $84.70.

While that charge was pending, Andrade and two female companions entered a Kmart store in Montclair, Calif., two weeks later and tried to steal more videos. He was again stopped and detained by store security personnel and charged with shoplifting. The combined value of the merchandise: $68.84.

A state jury in San Bernardino, Calif. …

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