Three Strikes and Johnny Holley, Jr: 30 Years for Stealing a Toolbox

In Alabama, Johnny Holly, Jr. has been freed after serving 30 years of a sentence of life without parole. His crime: he stole a toolbox. His sentence was the result of a three-strikes law.

How did he get free?

He is free today only because the Legislature changed the repeat-offender law early this decade.
The change in the law allowed for the possibility of parole. Even so, it took him several years to be resentenced and to get out.

Who helped him ? The prosecutor and a host of prison guards.[More...]

The toolbox's owner, who has since died, didn't want to press charges, but was talked into it by a young deputy district attorney who later concluded that he'd made a mistake.

"I was acting as a knee-jerk prosecutor without the benefit of enough experience to know that law cannot be a 'one size fits all' process," Bruce Maddox, now a lawyer in private practice, wrote in a 2005 affidavit in support of Holley's release.

60 prison guards urged his release, saying he was a changed man.

The cost to Alabama for his incarceration: $400,000.

As one law enforcement official says, if you want a policy where you lock people up forever, "You better get out your wallet."

As for what Holley's been doing since his release:

Since his release, Holley has gone from church to church to share his testimony and dissuade young people from following the "corrupt" path that did him so much harm. He hopes to find a job using some of the skills learned in prison. Assuming that he meets his parole conditions, a pardon is possible as early as 2011.

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    May One Conclude That Perhaps (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by tokin librul on Tue May 19, 2009 at 09:53:19 AM EST
    Me. Holley's skin was of a far darker hue than that of his accusers, prosecutors, and jurors?

    Just askin?

    here we go again (2.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Iamme on Tue May 19, 2009 at 10:23:47 AM EST
    When the law was made that said "dont steal" it did not reference any particular color.  This is where you lose any sympathy from me when you play this race card here.

    Did he steal something?  YES.  Did he break the law three times?  YES.  Did he get caught and prosecuted 3 times?  YES.

    I bet if he was black and he didnt steal anything he would not have been a 3 time offender.  

    Please dont defend him due to color when the crime was committed.  Did he break the law?  YES.  The end.  

    If he didnt break the law we wouldnt be talking about this issue or his skin color.  

    If people of color want to stop being put in jail then its easy.  Stop breaking the law.  I work with a large array of people of color and they dont seem to have any problems.  WHY?  They dont break the law.


    so I'm assuming you haven't driven over (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by of1000Kings on Tue May 19, 2009 at 01:52:03 PM EST
    the speed limit three times in your life?

    that's still breaking the law...

    here in St Louis I see 25 people a day making a right turn on red (where it's posted not to do so) or making a right turn where no right turn is allowed, or making a left turn on yield when the sign posted says left turn on arrow only...or a u-turn in the middle of a major road...

    seriously, probably 25 times a day I see this...

    but hey, I guess we all get to decide what laws are worth regarding and which are not...

    I know, it's a stretch because in our minds breaking a speed limit law isn't the same as stealing a freaking toolbox, but our minds are wrong; we can convince ourselves of anything we want...


    also you are talking about 2 different sets (none / 0) (#53)
    by nyjets on Tue May 19, 2009 at 02:45:12 PM EST
    You are also talking about 2 set if crimes.
    Most traffic crimes are violations. Most of the time, they do not follow you around (unless you want a job involve driving).
    Stealing a tool box is a felony.

    In other words, there is a world of difference between commiting a series of crimes that are nothing more than violations and commiting a series of felonies.


    so the system works (2.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Iamme on Tue May 19, 2009 at 09:08:20 AM EST
    He committed 3 crimes at different times.  Since he was a model inmate people came to his defense and got him out.

    I would rather err on the side of caution with people who commit 3 seperate crimes at 3 seperate times (can we say repeat offender) and lock them up.  Only them can we tell which ones need to stay and which ones we should release.  Clearly if the person deserves release there are ways in which it can be done as the story illustrates.

    Erroring on the side of caution... (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 09:17:06 AM EST
    I don't know man...erroring on the side of liberty and freedom feels so much better.  

    30 years, without a corpse to be found, is just nuts.


    I probably committed (none / 0) (#5)
    by eric on Tue May 19, 2009 at 09:50:56 AM EST
    three crimes last week.

    Do we know (none / 0) (#1)
    by jbindc on Tue May 19, 2009 at 08:07:55 AM EST
    what his previous crimes were?  I'm just curious because the article says they didn't involve hurting anybody, but in this instance he pulled out a knife, making this an armed robbery.  Was this out of character for him?

    Yep (none / 0) (#2)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue May 19, 2009 at 08:48:02 AM EST
    These 3 strikes laws amount to convicting a person for "pre-crimes," just like in the Minority Report movie.

    But it would be interesting to know if any other crimes involved drawing a weapon.  If he hadn't been incarcerated for as long as he had so he'd think to "find Gawd" in the first 3 months, would he have gone on to commit murder?

    But see my statement one.

    Many times through (none / 0) (#7)
    by Iamme on Tue May 19, 2009 at 10:16:49 AM EST
    Error on the side of Freedom?  Interesting comment since this guy committed a crime 3 times, was caught 3 times, was prosecuted 3 times.  How many times do we need to give him?

    You would think he would have understood the rules after the 1st time and damn sure got them after screwing up the 2nd time.  And yet he went and stole something again.  

    So what freedom and liberty are you talking about?  The freedom to walk up to someone elses property and the liberty to steal from them repeatedly?

    This was not a 1st time offender.

    The liberty of society at large... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 10:25:40 AM EST
    if he stole 3 times, punish him 3 times for stealing...where the f*ck does a 30 year sentence come from?  Has no place in a free country...no place.

    It's not about the thief, its about us bro...I don't want to be a part of a society that locks up petty thieves for 30 years...and for once, a state legislature agrees!  Though that may be for economic reasons, not moral ones.


    I see your point (none / 0) (#10)
    by Iamme on Tue May 19, 2009 at 10:43:55 AM EST
    I see your point.  Punish him for the crimes committed.  Completely agree.

    At some point, when people repeatedly demonstrate their inability to be functional in society then other measures need to be taken.

    If I stole your TV and got a year.  Then I stole the new one you just bought and got another year.  Then I came back to your house and stole a third one from you.  

    Just a guess but you would be thinking "damn why cant they stop this from happening"  This same guy keeps doing this.  We could give him another year but if he looked at you and said.  "I will be back next year".  You would be at a loss of what to do.

    Well you could get a security camera.  Doesnt help we keep catching him anyway.  You could move.  Seems like a huge inconvenience for a law abiding citizen like your self.  You could restrain him and wait for the police.  That doesnt sound so good.  He will just come back again tomorrow.  Or you could shoot him when he came back.  Not really good for you or him.

    Showing a habitual pattern deserves another stronger method of punishment.

    Society and my fredom in a free country also need to be protected.  I guess I am more about a victims right to be protected and you are more about protecting the criminals rights.  

    So be it.  Thats why we live in the greatest country on the planet we can openly disagree with out fear of death.


    I just accept a higher crime rate... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 10:57:46 AM EST
    as the cost of living in a free society...the alternative, an overall less free society with an even more obscene prison population, is not something I want any part of.

    Free societuies are inherently more dangerous...it is worth it my friend.


    Is it however? (none / 0) (#15)
    by nyjets on Tue May 19, 2009 at 11:41:31 AM EST
    Are 'free' societies worth it if a person has to worry about people stealing the belongings, invading there homes, driving like fools on the road, or being murdered.
    The fact is that the individual commited not one but three crimes. This suggests to me that the person was a career criminal. Maybe life was to much. But it was obivous that normal punishment was not working so a long sentence may have been the correct path for this guy.
    I can not say I feel sorry for this guy doing 30 years in prison.

    Then I think you seriously underestimate... (none / 0) (#16)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 11:53:58 AM EST
    30 years in a cage nyjets.

    Armed robbery of the toolbox (none / 0) (#17)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue May 19, 2009 at 12:01:02 PM EST
    was the 8th felony he was convicted of.

    Yet, it appears.... (none / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 12:08:44 PM EST
    the guy is on the right track now...finally:)

    One thing for sure, if his thieving days are truly over its cheaper with him free, and easier on our collective soul.  


    No argument form me really. (none / 0) (#22)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue May 19, 2009 at 12:24:41 PM EST
    I'm not a huge fan, in general, of three strikes although I do support increasing consequences for career criminals.

    I wish him well.


    As extreme as I am... (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 12:34:49 PM EST
    I'm not opposed to smaller incremental increase in punishment for serious offenses....as long as we don't get close to thirty years without some bodily harm to a victim being involved in the crime/crimes.  

    Just figured it out (none / 0) (#28)
    by Iamme on Tue May 19, 2009 at 01:06:44 PM EST
    kdog - College age, many fine ideals circling through a fine mind.  May be a very book smart individual.  Cares for the planet and generally wants to make life better.  Very admiral goals.

    His views will change when. 1.) His car is stolen right from where he parked it like my parents.  2.) His house is burgalarized and many things were taken.  Like my house.  3.) His aunt is raped and killed in a laundry mat.  Like mine. 4.) His brother in law is convicted of DUI 4 times and stays out of prison only to have a 5th one that involved injuring a minor and they finally got his dangerous ass off the roads.

    Once he gets some life experience under his belt his views will change about criminals.


    Try... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 01:48:09 PM EST
    early 30's...but a bit of a Peter Pan complex:)

    More street smart than book smart by my own estimation.  

    My house was robbed once, didn't bother to report it...I don't call police as a rule.  

    Luckily have never had a family member be victimized by violence...very sorry to hear you have.  Sun god forbid it were to happen, I hope my views wouldn't change, more likely I'd seek my own justice if I could not forgive or move on.

    But I have been none to change my mind and change it again...not so much with the issues dearest to my heart, like the ever-expanding police state we live in.

    My dad was an ex-con and the greatest human being I've ever known, faults and all...that might be what you're looking for Dr. Frued:)


    Hey, so you stole a third time (none / 0) (#13)
    by wystler on Tue May 19, 2009 at 11:10:20 AM EST
    "Throw away the key" is still not an appropriate solution for you. It ignores society's responsibilities.

    therein lies the rub (none / 0) (#29)
    by Iamme on Tue May 19, 2009 at 01:16:21 PM EST
    society's responsibility.  Its never the criminals fault is it?

    How about some personal responsibility? By the guy committing the crime.

    Oh no I am a career thief but YOU have to take care of me.  

    Wystler if you feel so strongly please go to the nearest jail and sign up to be a halfway house for a career thief and let him live with you.  I bet you dont want a thief living in YOUR house.  We agree.  I dont want him in my house either thats why he is locked up.  He cant keep his hands off other peoples hard earned possesions.


    sounds like you may value your 'possessions' (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by of1000Kings on Tue May 19, 2009 at 01:56:12 PM EST
    a little too much...but I guess you are American, so it goes without saying...

    Its a free country (none / 0) (#51)
    by Iamme on Tue May 19, 2009 at 02:32:05 PM EST
    I get to value whatever I want to.  Its a free country.  That still doesnt give anyone the right to take from my possesion.  Yes I am an American.  If you are not I am sorry.  This is the greatest country on the planet.  

    But dont take my word for it look at the immigration records.  If we are so bad why are so many people trying to come here.  Trying to get into this country?  It is because it is "warts and all" the best country to live in period.  Do you ever hear of immigration issues in Mexico, Canada, Peru, China, Russia, anywhere in Europe?  NO you dont because while some are moving to those countries there is an overwhelming number of people trying to come here.  

    So say what you want people that are repeat offenders should be locked away for a long period of time and I am damn proud to be an American.


    And your feelings are in direct oppostion to the (none / 0) (#71)
    by Jeralyn on Tue May 19, 2009 at 11:17:52 PM EST
    principles of this site. You may express them four times a day and no more. See the comment rules on chattering.

    dog, you're taking it too light (none / 0) (#12)
    by wystler on Tue May 19, 2009 at 11:08:25 AM EST
    He wasn't sentenced to 30 years.

    He was sentenced to natural life (no parole).

    For stealing a toolbox.

    Don't let the people come with the "did he do the deed" argument. That kind of get-tough-on-crime-on-steroids attitude has us in the crisis we have today, with far too many Americans locked up.


    did he do the deed argument (none / 0) (#25)
    by Iamme on Tue May 19, 2009 at 12:54:35 PM EST
    What in the world are you talking about?  What is the first thing they do in a court of law?  They read the charges.  "did he do the deed argument".  

    so in your world wether he stole something that someone else worked hard for is OK.  Are you a thief?  Do you think its ok for someone else to take my possesions?  So in your world we are going to have a list of all the material things on the planet and then each one has its own sentence?  We do that today.  Repeat offenders.  Maybe you should have said "did he do the deed many many many times argument"

    The ratiional people (of any color)who dont do things to get themselves incarcerated dont have a problem with these laws.  They keep what is rightfully theirs in their possesion.  They keep those that dont think "stealing" applies to them in a place where they can no longer persue what they "think" is theirs.

    My bad shouldnt have responded to you as you clearly live in your own world with talk like that.  


    the law also says that we shouldn't kill (none / 0) (#38)
    by of1000Kings on Tue May 19, 2009 at 01:57:27 PM EST
    but then we send kids to other countries to do exactly that...

    everyone picks and chooses which laws apply to them, everyone...


    there's no way ... (none / 0) (#48)
    by wystler on Tue May 19, 2009 at 02:18:29 PM EST
    ... that stealing a toolbox merits life without parole. None. Nada.

    (But there's no convincing some, I guess.)


    not true (1.00 / 2) (#73)
    by wystler on Wed May 20, 2009 at 11:22:10 AM EST
    he was sentenced and served time on those other crimes.

    apparently, you find logic and reason a deep challenge


    time for you to move... (none / 0) (#77)
    by of1000Kings on Wed May 20, 2009 at 01:45:58 PM EST
    I always love thought...

    'you kin git oot' 'dey took our jobs'...

    the south is awesome...


    3 strikes? More like 8 strikes... (none / 0) (#14)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue May 19, 2009 at 11:37:39 AM EST
    At the completion of the sentencing hearing and arguments by the parties, the trial court found that the appellant, after having been previously convicted of seven felonies in Alabama, committed the offense of robbery in the first degree. The court therefore sentenced appellant to imprisonment for life without parole, pursuant to Section 13A-5-9(c)(3), Code of Alabama 1975.
    The judgment entries evidenced five previous convictions for grand larceny and two convictions for second degree burglary

    So (none / 0) (#21)
    by jbindc on Tue May 19, 2009 at 12:18:26 PM EST
    8 felonies and the last was armed robbery?  

    I don't feel as sorry for him as I did when I first read the story.


    Am I suppose (none / 0) (#18)
    by maddog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 12:05:41 PM EST
    to feel sorry for this guy?  He is dumb as a bag of rocks.  He has 2 convictions and knows that the next one will mean life in prison.  What a moron.  

    Lock him up.  He should have changed after the first time.  How many crimes did he commit that he didn't get caught?

    Don't feel sorry for him.

    "Lock 'em up, lock 'em up..." (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 12:10:51 PM EST
    I kinda feel sorry for you maddog.

    normal answer (none / 0) (#26)
    by Iamme on Tue May 19, 2009 at 12:58:40 PM EST
    There is nothing wrong with maddog for you to feel sorry for him.  He is completely rationale.  It is you "defender of the criminals" that we should feel sorry for.  

    Dont be mean to him he was only convicted of 8 felonies.  That poor guy.

    Thanks we dont need your kind running the country.  All the criminals would be loose running the streets. Trying to re-integrate into society by stealing everyone elses possesions.


    Worry not... (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 01:04:33 PM EST
    my "law and order" loving friend...your kind are in power and will be in power...us liberty and redemption loving saps have been on the run and on the fringe since not long after 1776.  The criminals are loose running in the halls of power, just like you like it:)

    You win...sun god help us.


    didn't know this man was a violent sex offender... (none / 0) (#41)
    by of1000Kings on Tue May 19, 2009 at 02:03:46 PM EST
    must have missed that part...

    I don't do background checks... (none / 0) (#43)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 02:09:02 PM EST
    on my neighbors.  People who think like that give me the creeps.

    criminals are already loose running the streets (none / 0) (#42)
    by of1000Kings on Tue May 19, 2009 at 02:05:52 PM EST
    not running in the streets, but running the streets...

    DC, Wall Street, 'Hedge' Fund Managers, politicians...war profiteers, hanging out in Texas not doing much but raising hundreds of millions of dollars somehow...getting away with insider trading..etc etc...just go to the house of our former president if you don't like criminals running in the streets...


    And their toolboxes... (none / 0) (#45)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 02:11:07 PM EST
    must be protected:)

    Yes, but that long track record (none / 0) (#50)
    by Bemused on Tue May 19, 2009 at 02:25:18 PM EST
     ended 28 years ago.

      You may say he would not have changed if he had not been locked up and I suspect you are correct, but he has been locked up and everyone (including his jailers) seem to believe he has changed.

      None of us have enough information to have a valid opinion as to  the "proper" length of imprisonment given his last  crime and prior record because we don't have enough info about this case or the priors. Maybe 28 years was too long and maybe it was about right.

      We can, but don't have to, believe that no one deserves life without possibility of parole if he has never committed a crime that physically harmed another person.



    "proper" (none / 0) (#54)
    by Bemused on Tue May 19, 2009 at 02:54:04 PM EST
     is subjective but it's wrongheaded to suggest that society (or more specifically the legislature and courts) should not be guided by the objective of achieving proper sentencing.

      I don't and think k very few thinking people believe that every sentence is "proper" simply because it was a lawfully imposed by a court following a duly enacted statute. I often believe people receive sentences that are too harsh and sometimes that are too lenient despite the sentences being lawful.

      Your idea that the real question is whether society will miss a guy like that  is frightening. You may want to consider that not everyone would miss you either.


    Our prison population... (none / 0) (#57)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 03:00:56 PM EST
    is a crime against humanity....and we're all f*ckin' guilty as sin.  

    Forgive us lord, we know not what we do.


    Lets send all the prisoners (none / 0) (#59)
    by Iamme on Tue May 19, 2009 at 04:17:54 PM EST
    to live with kdog.  Clearly he has an issue with locking them up.  Removing them from his "humanity" so they cannot steal or assault other humans.  

    I guess I am missing it.

    Oh wait Kdog you can have exactly what you want.  Please go on a prison tour and convince them all to never ever do whatever they did again and turn them loose.  Only I dont want them in my neighborhood.  Maybe we can send them all to an island and you can go with them.  I am sure they would not harm someone so warm as yourself.

    Once again it boils down to feeding your morality or protecting the innocents.  Morality trumps the rights of the law abiding citizens.  I dont care that your wife was stabbed and they took your stuff that guy deserved to be out of jail.  


    If given the choice... (none / 0) (#62)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 04:42:17 PM EST
    of their island or yours Iamme...well, that's a no-brainer:)

    innocents? (none / 0) (#68)
    by of1000Kings on Tue May 19, 2009 at 08:28:11 PM EST
    and who decides who the innocents are?

    the judges (many of whom are far from innocent themselves)...
    the christian leaders (see above)...
    the politicians (see above)...
    the Aristocratic class (lol)

    you?  doubt you are innocent...doubt anyone is innocent outside of children...

    many of the most respected persons in our communities are far from innocent (as we find out everyday--child abuse, alcohol abuse, pedophilia, hypocrisy, vain/ego, contempt/hate/racism, usury, embezzlement, ponzi schemes, greed, simony...could go on and on obviously)...

    and yes, America very well may be the best country in the world (have never lived anywhere else for an extended amount of time, and as such can't make any statement for certain...I know some people who have never lived anywhere else make the claim, but their opinion holds no value considering) but that doesn't keep me from believing it could always be better...

    my allegiance is with my conscious and God, though, not a country...(gnostic)


    Three strikes is popular.... (none / 0) (#63)
    by 1980Ford on Tue May 19, 2009 at 04:45:10 PM EST
    if it still is, only because of the fear mongering propaganda used to promote it. If based on facts and statistics and still popular in the polls, then it might actually be popular. And many if not almost everyone who supports Three Strikes laws don't really understand them. Try reading this first and see if you have the same opinion.

    Again, Iamme (none / 0) (#72)
    by Jeralyn on Tue May 19, 2009 at 11:19:34 PM EST
    is limited to four comments a day that take expresses these views.

    Violence is the real problem (none / 0) (#24)
    by MyLeftMind on Tue May 19, 2009 at 12:50:03 PM EST
    Theft is a minor problem compared to murder, manslaughter, rape and other crimes against humanity.  In a capitalistic society so economically stratified with the rich are getting richer by manipulating our government, it's sometimes hard to pin down exactly what theft is.  Sure, the law delineates what it is, but we can't stop the legal bribing of our government officials.  What's worse, people who steal or people engaged in war profiteering who contrive to elect war mongering presidents?

    I'd rather we just find a way to punish thieves by making them pay back the victim and society, then let them go without the record of their mistakes hanging over their head.  All that does is ensure they can never fully reenter society again.  

    I guess I think a big reason so many people (none / 0) (#64)
    by MyLeftMind on Tue May 19, 2009 at 05:11:02 PM EST
    steal is because we live in such a disastrously inequitable society.  I'm not saying violent criminals should be on the street, I'm saying I think we can prevent repeat crimes like theft by keeping people more engaged in society.  People become less engaged when they lose faith in the system and see others being handed huge advantages.  It's a simple biological fact that unfairness is perceived and resisted by many social mammals (see non-human studies of inequities). And I believe in rehabilitation instead of perpetual punishment.  Once person has a record of committing minor crimes, they've lost any chance to get a good job.  So how do you rehabilitate them when they have such restricted options? It would be better to give the opportunity to move past their mistakes.  

    I'm not as supportive of violent criminals because I think by the time you get to the point of being able to rape or murder, maybe there's no chance of rehabilitation.  


    I guess I think a big reason so many people steal is because we live in such a disastrously inequitable society.
    I think people steal because they want what someone else has and they don't have the moral strength of character not do it.

    But that's just me.


    that is ture, sarcastic... (none / 0) (#69)
    by of1000Kings on Tue May 19, 2009 at 08:36:24 PM EST
    but it's hard to resist stealing and such when it is promoted by the more respected persons in our society...

    politicians like Bush and his insider trading ways, wall street, bankers, religious leaders (like evangelical leaders stealing millions from their viewers and building multi-million dollar homes)...

    but you're right, people should have the conscious not to steal...unfortunately in our society the love of things and money has surpassed the love of the true teachings of christianity (not those passed down by the churches) and morality...greed/power/respect (and not in the good sense) seems to overrule most logic and morality...


    Very well said... (none / 0) (#66)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 05:20:34 PM EST
    though I believe a murderer is also capable of redemption, society really has no choice but to lock up violent criminals, and repeat violent criminals for a long time, even life.

    And while armed robbery is technically a "violent crime", in my mind its a big leap from armed robbery to actual killing or assault.  If the convict had an option to steal with a pen at the ready, I'm sure they would..but once ya hurt somebody you crossed the line.



    it only cost the state of alabama (none / 0) (#30)
    by cpinva on Tue May 19, 2009 at 01:36:04 PM EST
    $14,285.71 per year to incarcerate mr. holley? sorry, i don't buy that for a moment, unless they had him living in a tent city or something. of course, being alabama, i suppose it's possible, but my guess is that cost more like two or three times that amount, per year.

    at that rate, we should be sending all our homeless to live in alabama prisons, it'd be cheaper.

    I think the essence of the story should be (none / 0) (#34)
    by Bemused on Tue May 19, 2009 at 01:51:06 PM EST
      that this person changed and so can other people. The lesson shouldn't be seen as anything beyond that even "career criminals" such as this guy don't need to be given life without possibility of parole sentences. Life without sentences should be reserved for the worst violent criminals.

      I don't have a problem with laws that -- actually I think it would be incredibly stupid not to-- impose incrementally more severe punishments on repeat offenders, but I don't think life without is appropriate merely for an accumulation of lesser offenses.  

      This particular case  is compelling not  because of the lack of seriousness or number of offenses he committed  render his being imprisoned for a very long time unjust (8 felonies including at least one armed robbery by one's ear;y 30s suggests a certain lawlessness) but because people who know him believe he has changed despite having been a persistent  criminal.

      If someone that prone to crime can change and be worthy of release despite his past so can many others.


    The irony... (none / 0) (#55)
    by kdog on Tue May 19, 2009 at 02:54:25 PM EST
    of debating how much time a petty thief should get in a cage while 1 million dollars is being stolen from us every 4 seconds by the white collar thieves at the big failed banks...ya can't make this sh*t up.

    I guess by the logic of the law and order brigade the folks running Citi and BoA should get 300,000 year sentences.

    Yes it is ironic...but that is another topic (none / 0) (#60)
    by Iamme on Tue May 19, 2009 at 04:27:27 PM EST
    Those folks havent yet been convicted of anything.  This guy was convicted. If I recall one of the arguments in the torture thread was "they were not given due process".  This guy was given "due process" 8 times.  I think it was time for "dude your done process".

    As my original comment stated.  "then the system works".  If he was convicted and served enough time and changed his character good things happened.  Lo and behold people went to bat for the guy and he got out.

    So its not damn the torpedoes full steam ahead and throw away the keys.  Its (stealing your line) you f*cked up you were convicted 3 times of 8 felonies and its time to pay the piper.  OK some thinks you deserve a 9th chance then we will work our way through it.  


    Well, actually (none / 0) (#61)
    by Bemused on Tue May 19, 2009 at 04:38:20 PM EST
      the system was changed. If the legislature had not amended its "3 strikes" law he would not have been eligible for release despite changing and having people go to bat for him.

      My objection is to the system that existed prior to that (and still exists in some other states) where once a person is convicted under a 3 strikes statute he is never eligible for release.

      I agree that person with his record who is convicted of armed robbery deserves a lengthy sentence--  I won't even say the 28 years he served is excessive as there is simply not enough information to make that call but there is enough information to say it isn't per se unreasonable.

      I'm only saying that I think a sentence of life without possibility of parole is per se unreasonable for someone who has never physically harmed another person. Even a habitual criminal should have some hope for redemption and release if his worst crime does not involve actual physical violence against another person.


    how do you know it's eight crimes? (none / 0) (#67)
    by diogenes on Tue May 19, 2009 at 06:38:55 PM EST
    Most convicted criminals will tell you that they committed many more crimes than the ones they were arrested and convicted for.  You give the police too much credit if you think that they solve every case.

    thrilled (none / 0) (#79)
    by moirao on Sat Jun 20, 2009 at 06:47:24 PM EST
    I am thrilled that someone stepped up for this man. who has had a drink after work and drove home for dinner? thats attempted murder!! you knew you had that drink when you got in the car!
    who has smoked pot (or worse) when they were in school and grew up and got on with being the person they are? because you go to prison doesnt mean you dont learn and become someone that can be productive on the street.. all these rightous people? honestly, have you NEVER done anything wrong???