(TheRedWire.com) – When someone commits a crime, society expects the courts will impose a fitting punishment on the perpetrator. Many of us have seen light sentences imposed for unspeakable crimes. But occasionally, seemingly harsh sentences are handed down to small-time offenders.
One fateful Sunday night in February 1981 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Rolf Kaestel, 29, robbed a taco shop. His weapon of choice was a water gun and his victim was 17-year-old Dennis Schluterman.
Police charged Kaestel with aggravated robbery. He broke no firearm laws, and no one was injured. He robbed the restaurant of a mere $264. Typically, punishments fit the crime. Unfortunately for this petty thief, he was sentenced to 40 years, a life sentence. Along with his prison sentence, the court levied a $15,000 fine against Kaestel. So, not only was his life taken from him for $264, but he faced insurmountable debt.
40 years later, he's set to be freed: https://t.co/sHxGFtCPDu
"He Robbed a Taco Joint With a Toy Water Gun for $264. He Got Life in Prison." https://t.co/h5Mf6zSxZW
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) July 4, 2021
His sentence is nearing an end, and he’s now 70 years old after spending a lifetime in prison, earning degrees, acting as a paralegal, working in the prison library and helping other prisoners. Even though he’s served his 40 allotted years and his victim, Schluterman, has campaigned for his release since 1988, he must seek clemency from the Arkansas governor because he’s serving a life sentence. Gov. Asa Hutchinson denied him clemency in 2015 but will review his most recent request by September 3. If he denies Kaestel again, the inmate must wait another four years until he can reapply for clemency and parole.
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