A Ventura County career criminal has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for stealing $12 worth of sundries from a Santa Barbara County grocery store.
Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa imposed the sentence Thursday on Ronald Steven Herrera, 57.
Herrera was found guilty last month of commercial burglary and felony petty theft for stealing lip balm, breath spray and a bottle of wine from a Carpinteria Vons store. The burglary was Herrera's third felony conviction under the state's three-strikes law, an initiative approved by voters eight years ago that mandates a life term for a third felony if the first two were serious or violent. Herrera's attorneys have said they plan to appeal.
"He may have taken approximately $12 worth of items, but the fact remains he is a violent serious offender who cannot function in society," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Darryl Perlin. "He is the kind of person the voters and Legislature don't want out on the street."
Last week, the three-strikes law -- the nation's harshest measure for repeat offenders -- was challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court under the principle that the penalty is unconstitutional because it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. A ruling is due in several months.