Italy’s highest court acquitted a homeless man who stole cheese and sausages in a supermarket.
Firstly, he was sentenced to six months in prison and fine of 100 Euro. But after the appeal, the Supreme Court determined that his act was conducted based on an essential need for nourishment.
Independent: Italian court rules stealing food if you are poor and hungry is not a crime
This judgment was broadly reported with the title “stealing food if you are poor and hungry is not a crime” by the media. The opinions against this decision seem split. Some people say that everyone in a civilized country should not starve. Others suggest it took multiple rounds in the courts to make a sentence to such a tiny crime.
The BBC: Italian court rules food theft 'not a crime' if hungry
I think that the Italy Court has never defined that theft conducted by a poor person as innocent. Each case will be discussed whether the defendant could have avoided from stealing. You should not consider all poor people are permitted to steal food in the market based on this verdict.
In general, punishment is to be given for the purpose of stopping further crimes caused by the criminal or other people. Based on this concept, it is no use to incarcerate this person, because he must recommit a theft when he is free. In addition, incarceration of a person needs more money than feed him directly. In the economic point of view, minor offenses are likely not to deserve to incarceration.
On the other hand, it is obvious that this decision is no more solutions for poor people who can hardly gain daily food. The court can only resolve the conflicts which have already emerged. Welfare systems should be enhanced to prevent similar cases.
After all, I reckon this case means a caution from the court to the government suggesting its poor welfare policy.