Forever Jail is a Fail

A nineteen-year-old robbed two video stores with a rifle. No shots fired. No injuries. But it was unquestionably a violent crime (He says the rifle was not loaded. I’m curious why the news team wasn’t able to verify that simple fact. I understand that it is legally irrelevant according to the statute book, but it should at least be recorded.) He was duly caught and convicted.

Rene Lima-Marin was sentenced. His lawyer told him that he was to serve sixteen years in prison. According to Fox News he was one of the uncommon individuals who decides to do right in response to our prison system. “Lima-Marin served 10 years with exemplary behavior – not written up even once. And when he got out, he pledged he’d never do anything to go back.” After a decade in prison he made parole in April 2008. This was for a crime that normally gets anywhere from a four- to sixteen-year-sentence.

Lima-Marin found a woman, got married, had babies. Now he’s a husband and the father of two small boys. He told the local Fox station, “It’s that every day, happy, white-picket-fence type of life.”

Now he can see his boys when it is visiting hours at the prison where he is, again, incarcerated.

He was guilty of being released “prematurely.” A judge sent him back to prison for the original charges in January 2014. He is supposed to serve 98 years.

As a pastor, I have seen what happens with prosecutions with a person I ministered to, briefly, so I’m not entirely surprised. When I was in Washington State it had a “three times, you’re out law.” What most people didn’t know was that a prosecutor could easily turn one event into two or three felonies. And he was plenty incentivized to do so.

In this case the prosecutors had managed to make eight charges out of the two armed robberies. They added up to almost a century. Lima-Marin’s attorney believed they were supposed to be served simultaneously. Apparently so did whatever bureaucratic administration that decided to release him from prison in 2008. But there was a record somewhere that said differently. So the judge imprisoned Lima-Marin for what will be the rest of his natural life—consecutive sentences for each of the eight defined crimes.

Our prison system will be extolled for its desire to rehabilitate criminals. It almost never happens. But this was a shining exception. Naturally, it had to be killed.

“I would have never had a wife. I would have never had children. I would have never bought a house. I would have never done any of those things,” Lima-Marin said. “But I did those because you let me out. And now they are being punished for something they had absolutely nothing to do with.”

It’s a punishment he says is excessive, wrong and breaks up his family

People have raped, molested kids, taken lives and had 15, 20, 25 years,” Lima-Marin said. “And I made a mistake and tried to steal some money, and I am given my entire life in prison?”

He added: “I acknowledge the fact that I did something wrong. I take responsibility for the fact that I did something wrong. But I also believe I completed the punishment.”

I hate to hear people describe their sins as “mistakes.” But otherwise, Lima-Marin is absolutely correct. This is a travesty of justice.