A homeless man was tried for stealing $4.50 worth of food. Here's what the judges said.

In 2015, Roman Ostriakov was sentenced to six months in an Italian jail for attempting to steal $4.50 worth of cheese and sausage.

Ostriakov was convicted for stealing cheese and sausage. Photo via torange.biz.


His sentence was finally overturned this week by a panel of judges for the sort of reason that restores your faith in humanity just a little bit.

Italy's Supreme Court in Rome. Photo by Tiziana Fabi/Getty Images.

According to a BBC report, the judges ruled that because Ostriakov was homeless and had stolen the food because he was desperately hungry, the theft was not a crime.

A man in Italy sleeps outside a train station. Photo by Tiziana Fabi/Getty Images.

The ruling was a stunning display of compassion and a rare acknowledgment of the cost of being poor.

A man in India eats in a prison yard after having been rounded up for begging on the street. Photo by Chandan Khanna/Getty Images.

Ostriakov's conviction and acquittal highlights the often harsh (and disproportionate) punishment meted out to crimes that are born out of poverty and desperation.

In the United States, things like conviction and sentencing disparities for crack versus cocaine and petty theft versus financial crime serve to reinforce the notion that being poor deserves an increased level of criminal scrutiny.

There is evidence that poverty — even when less extreme — primes people to make negative decisions.

A 2013 study, published in the journal Science, found that for the subjects of the experiment, who were poor, worrying about money noticeably impaired their ability to perform well on unrelated spacial and reasoning tasks.

Rather than wasting public resources throwing people in prison for being hungry, we can and should use those resources to make sure they're not hungry in the first place.

Photo by Paul Sableman/Flickr.

In the U.S., that means supporting programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly known as SNAP or food stamps), which feeds millions of the hungriest Americans every year despite frequent efforts to draw down its funding or defund it entirely. It's not always sufficient, but it's often better than nothing — and ultimately a fairly small component (2.3%) of the federal budget.

Recently, more radical measures like universal basic income, which would provide in place of targeted social programs, have gained some traction with advocates on both sides of the aisle.

We can't give everyone a free pass, but we certainly give them enough of a hand that they shouldn't need one.

People eat at a food bank in New York City. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

An editorial in an Italian newspaper — translated by the BBC — hailed the ruling for being a guided by a concept that "informed the Western world for centuries — it is called humanity."

Better yet, let's extend that humanity to hungry people before they're forced to a choice to steal or starve — a choice that no person should have to make.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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