Habitual Offender’s Life Term Voided in Delaware

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The Delaware Supreme Court threw out a life sentence under the state’s habitual offender law, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution’s protection from cruel and unusual punishment, the Wilmington News Journal reports. Chris A. Crosby, who had five previous non-violent offenses, was ordered to serve life in prison for giving a false name to police and signing a fingerprint card with that name. The court said the punishment was “grossly disproportionate to the severity of his offense.”

Noting that the lower court judge seemed to be sentencing Crosby out of frustration, the Delaware high court said that “defendants should not face excessive sentences merely because they are too much trouble for the criminal justice system … our judicial system should not allow frustration or failed efforts at rehabilitation to result in a lock-him-up-and-throw-away-the-key approach to sentencing.”

In sending the case back for a new sentence, the justices ordered that it be given to a different judge to “enhance public confidence in our judicial system.”

Link: http://www.delawareonline.com/newsjournal/local/2003/06/03threestrikesrul.html

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