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Data obtained by The Appeal show nearly 2,000 people in Mississippi and Louisiana are serving long—and sometimes life—sentences after they were labeled “habitual offenders." But most are behind bars for small crimes like drug possession.
One man, Paul Houser, is serving 60 years on a drug conviction for purchasing cold medicine and batteries. He’s one of 2,600 people incarcerated as a result of the state’s three strikes laws.
Derek Harris awaits arguments in the state Supreme Court about the sentencing, which one judge called ‘unconscionable.’
Henri Lyles is challenging his life sentence under a statute that penalizes people for prior convictions. A favorable decision by the state Supreme Court would mean that he and a dozen people sentenced to life could one day be freed.
Case called an “embarrassment to criminal justice system.”