Nearly 16 years to the day after she gunned down the pastor of a church in front of his congregation, Elizabeth Mayberry walked out of an Indiana prison–and provoked a debate on truth in sentencing, says the Indianapolis Star. Mayberry, 52, was sentenced to 60 years in prison, but the Indiana Supreme Court reduced her sentence to 40 years in 1996. The court found that she was mentally ill at the time of the shooting, and that should have been considered in her sentencing. With time off for good behavior and four years of her sentence lopped off because she received two college degrees in prison, she served 16 years.
David Freund, who represented Mayberry when she appealed her sentence, said reducing prison time for pursuing an education benefits society. “One of the best things you can do for people incarcerated is get them an education,” because it gives them hirable skills when they get out, he said.Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, a longtime advocate for a truth-in-sentencing law that would require violent criminals to serve much longer than half their sentences, said Mayberry’s case is a prime example of what is wrong with the system. “We as the state owe it to the citizens to say how long someone will serve,” Brizzi said. Extensive sentencing credits for good behavior and education reduce the public’s confidence in the justice system, he said.