The Journal of History     Fall 2003     TABLE OF CONTENTS



To: Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Politicians, Citizens Of Florida

FLORIDA . The Cost Of The Three Strikes Law..
Judge Opposes $20 Life Sentence..
'Three-Strikes' Law Gives Court No Choice

WKMG-TV/DT Orlando | 7.16.03 --
A judge reluctantly gave a man life in prison after a $20 burglary, saying he had no choice under a state law that requires such terms for repeat offenders.

Circuit Judge Bob Wattles called the punishment unjust and unfair.

"I don't have the authority or the power to not sentence you to life," Wattles told Maurice Leonard Reed, 37, of nearby Apopka, at his Tuesday sentencing.

Prosecutors had designated Reed a "prison release re-offender" under a state law that requires harsher penalties for some repeat offenders.

Reed was charged in February with robbery and burglary from an attempted undercover drug buy. He had jumped into an undercover officer's car and offered to sell him drugs. When the deputy was distracted, Reed snatched a $20 bill from his hand, hit him in the face and jumped out of the car. He was convicted last month.

The Florida statute, in place since 1997, lets prosecutors seek enhanced sentences for people who commit certain felonies, such as burglary, within three years of release from prison.

As of the end of May, 302 people have been sentenced statewide under the law this year, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

Reed's attorney, Christopher Smith, said he will appeal, challenging the burglary conviction.
"I just felt this was a little overzealous," Smith said.

During his sentencing hearing, Reed acknowledged that he had led a life of crime. He has had convictions ranging from aggravated battery with a deadly weapon to cocaine and heroin sales.
"I know I've made some mistakes in my life," Reed told the judge. "I don't think putting me away for life is going to bring on justice. I just come to the court for mercy."

The judge said his hands were tied and noted that the cost of Reed's incarceration will be $560,000 if he lives to be age 75.

"You might get an appellate review," the judge said. "You might have one glimmer of hope. Good luck, Mr. Reed."

Last March, the US Supreme Court upheld lengthy sentences for two men who were convicted of petty thefts under California's "three strikes" law.
AS A MOTHER OF 2 SONS affected by the three strikes law I DEMAND abolishment of same and other following laws from the day they became official.

1. The prisoner releasee reoffender act which violates the constitutional principle of separation of powers and the right to due process of the law.
2. The habitual offender law
3. The life without parole or gain time law
4. The death penalty

1. They are unconstitutional.
2. Too many young offenders are sentenced to life without a chance of parole.
3. They are unfair as the re-convicted are serving time again for crimes for which they have already paid the penalty.
4. A human being's WHOLE life is at stake.

There is no incentive to change without a chance of parole and the shortening of a sentence with good time. It becomes a very dangerous situation as the prisoners have nothing to lose by committing other felonies inside the prison.

- ACLU Archives / 10 Reasons To Oppose "Three Strikes, You're Out"...


The Journal of History - Fall 2003 Copyright © 2003 by News Source, Inc.