If you don't want to go to prison, don't break the law. What a concept...
1 in 100 citizens of the United States being in prison doesn't bother you? Doesn't such a large proportion strongly suggest that US laws are too harsh and are not a good solution to the social ills the country suffers from? What happened to liberty? What happened to the idea that the United States is a country that values freedom?
The thing that bothers me is the number of people in this thread getting 'Thumbed Down' for implying that this is the prisoners fault, and not the law.
The law is there, it's an absolute, and it's designed to protect those values of freedom and liberty.
Criminal behaviour is not an absolute, not a constant. It is someone's choice to commit a crime, and they should be punished accordingly. Being sent to prison to 25 years for being stupid enough to be caught shoplifting etc, three times would be a fantastic deterrent.