This could be expensive for taxpayers. Shouldn’t habitual offender laws look at severity of CRIME, instead of number of convictions?
Jacobia Grimes is a career shoplifter, and his last offense – stealing $31 worth of candy from Dollar General Store – suddenly has him facing a possible sentence of 20 years to life behind bars.
The stiff penalty is a result of the fact Grimes has so many prior convictions, making him a “quad” offender under the state’s habitual-offender law. Even the judge is questioning the severity of the case.
Grimes appeared Thursday for arraignment before Criminal District Court Judge Franz Zibilich, pleading not guilty. “Isn’t this a little over the top?” Zibilich wondered aloud over the threat of a “multiple bill,” an approach that leaves little discretion to a judge. “It’s not even funny,” the judge said. “Twenty years to life for a Snickers bar?”
His attorney says he has a nine-grade education and a heroin problem. Since March 2001, he has spent nearly nine years total in state prisons, mostly for shoplifting: first a year, then 18 months, then three years and finally a little over three years ending in 2013, according to a state Department of Corrections spokesperson.
According to the state agency, prisoners cost the state an average of $18,800 per year. All his thefts were less than $500 worth of items. He also has prior convictions for possession with intent to sell fake drugs and obscenity, a crime committed while he was behind bars.
Grimes, who also faces a charge of drug paraphernalia possession, is free on $5,000 bond, court records show. He is next due in court on Wednesday. He has elected to forgo a jury in favor of a judge trial.
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