Why A Life Sentence For Selling $10 crack is not a fair sentence.
News Channel 7 reports
Gaffney man received a life prison sentence without parole today after a jury said he sold $10 worth of crack cocaine to an undercover police informant.
James R. Byers Jr., 28, was found guilty of third offense distribution of crack cocaine and distribution of crack cocaine within half a mile of a school or park.
Circuit Judge Derham Cole sentenced Byers in accordance with the state law for repeat violent offenders. Byers’ prior criminal record included 5 drug convictions.
“James Byers will spend the balance of his life behind bars because he failed to stop selling drugs,” Assistant Solicitor Kim Leskanic said.
Byers’ sold the drug near the intersection of Sixth Street and Cherokee Avenue close to Mary Bramlett Elementary School.
Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies videotaped the transaction between Byers and the informant
A life sentence for a selling crack. His offense was just selling $10 dollars crack to police offenders. $10 worth of crack would be considered to especially migitated felony based on the dollar amount of crack.
The first problem with the sentence that is classification that selling crack is a violent felony. Selling drugs is not a violent felony because it does not result in the use of physical force on a unwilling victim.
Crack is a dangerous drug and should not prohibited by law. However, it should be treated like any other nonviolent felony. This person is not a major regional distributor who runs a large multi-million distribution ring is real criminal, but a low-level street offender Selling $10 worth of crack should be treated like common petty theft.
With a common petty theft, you would need to sentence the offender to several years in prison as a habitual nonviolent offender. A fair sentence is like ten years. But life in prison for a crime that is like petty theft?
If the person committed three armed robberies with a use of a firearm, than a life without parole sentence should be debated as a discreationary punishment. However, a drug sentence is just a petty criminal act and it is an act of selling prohibited goods. Since the person has a committed the same felony several times, the sentence should be increased by several years, but not given a life sentence.
In conclusion, this is a classic textbook case for the misuse of habitual offender laws. Habitual offender laws are designed to give extended terms for the criminal that needs long period of detention for committing crime several times. I have conclude that the judge has showed gross negligance in the sentence and that the sentence is not consider to be a prudent sentence. Cases like this demonstrate that the legislature in South Carolina needs to reexamine its habitual offender laws and rewrite the law to include only felonies that involve serious physical force such as rape, armed robbery, and murder.