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The entrance to the Louisiana State Penitentiary (courtesy Wikimedia Commons user msppmoore)

The entrance to the Louisiana State Penitentiary (courtesy Wikimedia Commons user msppmoore)

At a time when so many eyes are on Angola, which is widely regarded as a plantation run by slave labor, it’s odd that the DA would bump up a guy who steals candy to the point where he’ll end up doing 20-to-life:

On Feb. 3, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office chose to charge Grimes under a statute that boosts the alleged candy theft to a felony punishable by up to two years in prison. The statute applies to people who have been convicted of “theft of goods” at least twice before.

This isn’t something that one needs to do to retain elective office in Orleans Parish. Look at the judges, they’re elected officials, and even the judge presiding over this case is incredulous:

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, or two or three or four.”

Judge Zibilich should nullify this with a not-guilty verdict, it’s that ridiculous.

But to the point, does anyone know what Cannizzaro’s endgame is? Is he looking to run statewide, where impressing white people by being tough on candy bar thieves is considered a good thing? Does he have a financial stake in Louisiana’s for-profit prison industry? Is he just a jackass?

Governor Edwards made reducing the prison population in the state a priority and a major promise in his campaign last November. He seems poised to make good on this, as his term progresses. Sending a nonviolent offender to the plantation to be a slave isn’t who we are. This has to stop.

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