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A New Orleans man sentenced to life in prison for stealing $15 gets second chance


A Louisiana court tossed out the life sentence for a man convicted of stealing $15.

Walter Johnson, 38, was charged with simple burglary for grabbing $15 from a police "bait vehicle" in 2013, but as a result of his prior convictions, Johnson was sentenced to life in prison.

His sentence was tossed by the Louisiana Court of Appeals Thursday, after deeming his punishment "unconstitutionally excessive." Johnson had three prior convictions.

He was sentenced last year under a habitual offender statute mandating a life sentence for fourth-offenders, according to the Associated Press.

Ultimately, the court ruled Johnson's sentencing was unconstitutional.

The appeals court ordered a New Orleans judge to order a pre-sentence investigation, hold a new hearing and come up with a reduced sentence.

One of the judges noted that none of Johnson's three previous convictions for burglary, possession of heroin and distribution of cocaine were for violent crimes.

"We cannot condone a sentence which condemns Mr. Johnson to a life and inevitable death within prison walls, in light of his non-violent criminal history and the extraordinarily minor crime in this case."

Some believe it's "total insanity" that a court sentenced him for life in the first place.

"Ensnares all sorts of mentally ill, drug addicted ppl."

"The kind of justice system that leads to results like this is not a system of justice."

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