Pennsylvania authorities charged a homeless person with theft in September over a 43 cent misunderstanding. The state’s three strike law could have led to him being sentenced to many years imprisonment. The theft charge against the homeless man was dropped last month. However, that doesn’t mean it didn’t work out the way it needed to.
As There are reasonsJoseph Sobolewski was reported to have grabbed two Mountain Dews at a convenience shop that advertised them at $3 each. The clerk gave him $2 and he walked off, unaware of the fact that the price for each was $2.29 (or $2.43 after tax). After he had committed the offense, the clerk called police. Sobolewski, who was on $50,000 bond, was arrested by the police. Sobolewski was held on $50,000 bail and could spend up to seven consecutive years behind bars.
Based on The Patriot-NewsProsecutors dropped the theft charge, and reduced the driving while a license was suspended charge from a misdemeanor down to the level of a traffic violation. Sobolewski will be exempted from a possible years-long sentence in prison due to a misunderstanding. This was described by Sobolewski as “great information.”
Although this is great news, it does NOT mean that everything went as planned.
Sobolewski, first, was arrested and spent one week in prison under a bail amount that was completely unrelated to the offense or his perceived danger to society. He was finally released after the public defender intervened and persuaded a new judge to make it “unsecured.” This allowed him to leave jail without any upfront payments.
According to GoFundMe, Sobolewski was able to help his wife and their two children by working odd jobs. However, it’s possible for him to have spent a week behind bars even though he had gainedful employment.
In addition, Sobolewski still owes court fees, and his bail amount is still set at $50,000—if at any point the district attorney’s office decides that Sobolewski has violated the terms of his bail, it can simply call him back to prison. This is not likely based upon the media coverage, but it hangs over Sobolewski.
As a matter of fact, The Patriot-News The charges were dropped by the prosecutors in October, after the story became “viral” and was covered by dozens more publications throughout the United States, Canada, and beyond. Every day, people are being arrested in more than half the U.S. States that have current three-strikes laws. It should not be surprising that they receive cruellydisproportionate sentences.
This is what the three-strikes law actually is: Unjust and cruel sentences that are enshrined in statute. It is no longer true that the sentence should be appropriate for the crime. Instead, mandatory sentencing provisions make it more severe to punish minor offenses based on previous convictions. These laws are often enforced even in situations where the judge may not want to give a severe sentence. Although it is good news Sobolewski won’t face a criminal charge in this instance, unfortunately the original threat to him with one still exists.