The American prison system is broken. According to the ACLU, the prison population in this country has grown by 790% since 1980.
In addition to that shocking statistic, the ACLU also reports that “At least 3,278 people were serving life sentences without parole for drug, property, and other nonviolent crimes in 2012.”
The point is people are being locked up more and more often for longer and longer periods of time. The worst part is that all of that jail time is very rarely deserved.
The offense that American’s are incarcerated can be downright mind-boggling in their stupidity.
These are five of the stupidest.
1. Possession…of Soap
26-year-old Annadel Cruz and 30-year-old Alexander Bernstein were arrested by police and thrown in jail after the officer decided that the homemade soap in their car was actually bricks of cocaine.
The officer did perform a field, which flagged the soap as being made of cocaine. However, a state lab was later unable to find any trace of illicit substance in the soap and the officer’s field test was determined to have been faulty.
Unfortunately for Bernestein and Cruz, however, this was not discovered until they had already spent a month in jail after being unable to post their combined $750,000 bail.
2. An Overdue Library Book
A New Mexico mother, Lori Teel, was arrested and sent to jail for failing to return a library book on time. The book (Twilight) had racked up $36 in fines and letters were sent to requesting that Teel appear in court. The problem was those letters were sent to her childhood home, not her current one, and Teel never received them.
Police officers arrived at her home and arrested her in front of her five children and forced her to spend the night in jail.
Just one more reason why the entire Twilight series should be avoided at all costs.
This one is tough. The man in question, Liam Stacey, is clearly an idiot. Unfortunately, however, the bill of rights protects idiots as well.
Stacey took to Twitter to mock the then-recent heart attack suffered by black soccer star Fabrice Muamba.
The Internet quickly tore him to pieces and Twitter banned his account for being such a horrible person. However, the local authorities felt he should also spend 56 days in jail for “inciting racial hatred. “
Stacey was a jerk for sure, but if we locked up every jerk that said something stupid online then the Internet would only have two users left (a Google bot and Tom from MySpace).
4. “Stealing” Rain
If the movie Pocahontas can teach the world anything it’s that anyone master cannot own the land, the sky, and all of nature.
This lesson was obviously missed, however, by the Oregon police department that arrested and jailed Gary Harington.
Harington was brought in for collecting rain in three barrels outside of his house to use in case of a fire. The state viewed this as an “illegal reservoir” and sentenced Harington to a full 30 days in jail.
Obviously this is the work of the powerful rain lobby that wants to control every drop of moisture that descends from the glorious heavens. Wake up sheeple!
5. Jolly Ranchers
Look everyone loves shows like The Wire, but sometimes those shows can cause people to see drugs where they should not be. This may have been the case for the New York City police officer who arrested and jailed two young men after searching them and discovering, “Crystalline rocks of solid material."
The young men claimed they were Jolly Ranchers, but the officer did not believe them, and (once again) a faulty field test came back positive for illegal drugs.
Further evidence cleared the men who filed (and won) a lawsuit against the city.
The kicker to all of this is that the candies were still in their wrappers when the cop discovered them.
Continue Reading: 5 Dumb Criminals Out Themselves On Social Media
The United States needs to change its policy on prison immediately. In the meantime, it might be a good idea to avoid making your own soap or buying any candy. Safety first.
Banner Image Credit: DimpleMonkey on Flickr