New Texas Jury Instructions: Life Sentences For Everybody, All The Time
OK, so there's this guy in Texas. He's not a great fella, so to speak, as he has spent a lot of time gettingconvicted of stuff like cocaine possession and aggravated assault and leaving the scene of an accident. Not a saint.
But he's done his time in prison, "paid his debt" or whatever, and now he's a free man. But then, he does something dumb — he tries to steal some food. Walks into a grocery store and shoves a rack of ribs into his shirt, because, who knows, if you really like ribs, maybe that sounds like a good idea.
But it isn't, because people are like, "Hey, that guy is clearly stealing meats," and then the guy gets arrested. Can you guess what is going to happen? Because it is Texas, maybe you can! They're going to lock him in a small concrete room until he dies.
Yup — Waco resident Willie Smith Ward was arrested back in 2011 after getting caught with stolen ribs and telling a store clerk to stay away because he had a knife. Because he has previous convictions and he happened to be stealing ribs in Texas, this is how he was treated by a jury of his "peers," per the Waco Tribune:
Ward’s theft of the $35 rack of pork ribs turned into a robbery when he threatened a grocery store employee who saw the huge bulge under Ward’s shirt and tried to stop him in the parking lot. [...]
Jurors took two minutes Wednesday to convict Ward on robbery charges and about an hour to decide his punishment.
62 minutes, to go from "Did this guy steal some ribs?" to "He should never again see daylight." JUSTICE.
“This verdict shows that the citizens of this county will not tolerate a continued disrespect and disregard for other people and their property,” said Assistant District Attorney J.R. Vicha, who prosecuted Ward with Chris Bullajian. “People who choose to do so will be dealt with seriously and appropriately.”
In case you missed it: A white teen drinks some beers, gets in a pickup and kills a guy, he gets probation and mandated church attendance. A black guy in Texas steals ribs, 50 years in prison. This is how we deal with people "appropriately."
And yes, let us praise the super-tough "citizens of this county," who imprisoned Willie Smith Ward to teach him a lesson, a lesson he did not learn all the other million times he was in prison, but this time it will stick, because they will lock him in there and forget about him and let him go crazy and then bury him in a bag. The wonderful people of Texas, who can look at the issue of repeat offenders and say, rather than "Hey, maybe something is wrong with our prisons," only that the people who offend again just haven't gotten enough prison yet.
It's the only logical solution, really. If prison didn't teach Ward a lesson before, the answer is clearly PRISON FOREVER. We have given up trying to rehabilitate this person, he stole some meat so now he will rot, because sometimes when a habitual offender steals some meat you just have to say "That's enough, no more meat-stealing, your life is over." This is Texas. We're tough.