10 Years or Life
Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting, October, 2018
Prince Albert dreamed of becoming a merchant marine. But that dream was derailed when he was injured in the Navy. After doctors prescribed him painkillers, he slipped into a pattern of drug abuse and was jailed repeatedly for possession.
Being caught more than once set Albert on a collision course with New Orleans’ draconian habitual offender law (also known as its “three strikes law”), which can be used to impose long sentences – even for nonviolent crimes. Because Albert lived in New Orleans, his fate landed in the hands of District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro. DAs have tremendous leeway in how they charge crimes, and when it comes to this law, Cannizzaro uses it with shocking regularity.