Since the dawn of human civilization, rulers have had to devise punishments for unacceptable behavior. Sincere attempts were occasionally made to ensure that the punishment fit the crime, like the concept of an Eye for an Eye. By contrast, the word “Draconian,” attributed to the ruler Draco of ancient Athens around 621 BC, is synonymous with barbaric, ruthless, cruel and authoritarian punishments. According to Draco, all crimes, no matter how small, were punishable by death. While we have come a long way since ancient Athens, we think you’ll be surprised by our list of 12 Shocking Punishments for Minor Crimes.
12. Life without Parole for Stealing a $159 Jacket
Timothy Jackson was caught shoplifting a $159 jacket from a New Orleans Mais Blanche department store in January of 1996. At the time of the offense Jackson was a 36-year-old restaurant cook with a sixth-grade education and a drug addiction problem. After leaving the store with the stolen merchandise, Jackson noticed a security guard in hot pursuit and decided to put the jacket down before attempting to flee the scene.
Since this was not Jackson’s first offense, the Louisiana Court made use of his criminal past, which included a juvenile conviction for simple robbery and two other simple burglary convictions, and sentenced him as a forth-strike offender. Judge Bernette Johnson wrote, “This sentence is constitutionally excessive in that it is grossly out of proportion to the seriousness of the offense.” Unfortunately this judge was unable to deviate from the mandatory life sentence without parole mandated by the habitual offender law.