I don’t know much about Dr. Ira Gore Jr. What I do know comes courtesy of the Supreme Court: He used to drive a BMW, he sued when he learned that the automaker repainted his new car before selling it to him, and his lawyer persuaded a jury to award him $4 million in punitive damages. I also don’t know how much help Gore has ever given to homeless people or heroin addicts. But I’m sure he would be glad to know that his Alabama case might help free some of California’s sorriest prisoners.

This happy occasion comes courtesy of California’s “three strikes” law. That’s the one, now mimicked widely, that puts people in prison for 25 years to life once they’ve pulled off a hat trick of crime. Problem is, while the law was aimed at taking our most dangerous and deadly off the streets, it’s also apt to punish society’s most poor and pathetic.

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