Pennsylvania Could Put a Homeless Man in Prison Over 43 Cents
A homeless man in Pennsylvania faces years in prison for not reading the fine print.
Joseph Sobolewski picked up a single Mountain Dew from a convenience store, listed as two for $3, according to Penn Live. He left $2 on the counter on his way out the door, unaware that the price only applied if he bought two. Rather than write off the difference—43 cents, including tax—to a misunderstanding, the clerk called the police, who tracked down Sobolewski and charged him for the theft.
Unfortunately, Sobolewski has two prior theft convictions, and under Pennsylvania’s “three strikes” law, the act of paying for most of, but not an entire, beverage requires he be charged with a felony, and face a potential jail sentence of up to seven years. Additionally, despite there being no force or threat of violence involved with the offense, Sobolewski was held with bail set at $50,000—which, to a homeless person with negligible income, may as well be $5 million.
Under the law in question, even though a first offense is treated akin to a
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