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STOP

Stop Turning Out Prisoners (STOP). STOP was formed to fight the early release of inmates in Florida, which, during the 1980's and 1990's, saw many inmates serving only 20 to 30 percent of their sentences. Due to efforts of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and STOP, convicted felons in Florida must serve 85 percent of their sentence.


Early release convicts repeating their crimes 

The Associated Press -- November 23, 1998

MIAMI - Twenty months after Harrel Franklin Braddy, one of hundreds of murderers and other violent inmates released early to relieve crowding, left prison, police say he tortured a woman and killed her child.

Across the state, the scenario repeats itself: Felons who won a ticket to walk - either as a reward for good behavior or because they were lucky enough to get reduced sentences - are killing, robbing and hurting again, police and prosecutors say.

Pending cases seem to support their contention,

Braddy was charged with abducting and severely beating 22-year-old Shandelle Maycock, leaving her for dead and killing her 5-year-old daughter, Quatisha. The child's body was found Nov. 9 floating in a roadside canal in the Everglades two days after she was abandoned nearby.

In Miami Beach, there is Michael Seibert, who served a third of his 30 year sentence for kidnapping and attempted murder before he, Braddy and hundreds of other prisoners were released early on March 11, 1997. Seibert was arrested a year later and charged with killing a high school senior and mutilating her body. A court hearing was set for Dec. 4.

Twenty miles north in Fort Lauderdale, Robert Malcom Rimmer was arrested and charged in May with fatally shooting two men he allegedly bound and gagged during a robbery. Rimmer was released early in 1994 after serving three years for armed robbery.

And in Orlando, police were forced to shoot and kill John Edward Armstrong in December, nine months after he, too, was released early. He killed a man in Winter Park and wounded a woman before holding two children hostage for three days.

Braddy served 13 years of a 30 year sentence for attempted first degree murder, kidnapping, armed robbery and escape.

"That's the downside of early release, especially when you're dealing with violent criminals," Miami Dade detective Patrick Brickman said after Braddy's arrest. "He takes his freedom to commit very similar crimes again."

A grass-roots organization called Stop Turning Out Prisoners found that during a three-year period in the early 1990s more than 100 killings were committed state-wide by inmates released early from prison. The crimes occurred during a time when the criminals would still have been behind bars, if not for early release provisions.

Early-release prisoners comprise a large number of suspects making their way to the State Attorney's Office in Broward County, one of at least three counties to set aside courts for habitual offenders.

"Just looking at the people we deal with that are arrested daily . . . those are the people in large part that we're prosecuting again," said Assistant State Attorney Mark Springer, a 23-year veteran who heads the career criminal unit. "If they hadn't got out, we wouldn't be seeing them."

Early release was Florida's answer to a prison crowding crisis in the early 1980s. In 1983, the state gave "basic gain time" to prisoners by shaving off 10 days for every month served. Additionally, as many as 20 days per month were available through "incentive gain time," which rewarded good behavior.

Basic gain time ended Jan. 1, 1994, and the following year, a law was passed requiring those convicted of crimes after Oct. 1, 1995, to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.

The state also tried to take away gain time from violent felons already behind bars, but the Florida Supreme Court ruled the move unconstitutional in 1996. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ruling.

As a result, hundreds of prisoners were released en masse in late 1996 and early 1997.

As of September 1998, some 39,890 prisoners in the state corrections system - or 60 percent - were eligible for release before serving 85 percent of their sentences. More than 30,000 of those prisoners were eligible for incentive gain time, corrections spokeswoman Debbie Buchanan said.

Law enforcement officials say the longer an inmate remains in prison, the less likely he is to commit a crime when he gets out.

Braddy, 49, would have been released at age 69 had he not been handed a get-out-of-jail free card in March 1997.

"What's the propensity at 69 to be abducting a 22-year-old woman and a 5-year-old child?" Brickman asked. "We don't see a lot of 69 year-old attempted murderers in the world or robbers. Every additional year they spend in jail reduces the likelihood of them committing another crime."

Then there are those who feel that evil will prevail, regardless of the number of years served.

"If you could commit a violent crime like this, more than likely you're going to do it again," said Shea Maycock, who grieves for Quatisha and is helping nurse her cousin, Shandelle, back to health.

Braddy, who is back in jail on charges of first-degree murder, felony child neglect, kidnapping, burglary, attempted murder and attempted escape, could be sentenced to death if convicted of killing Quatisha.

Shea Maycock said she would like to see him get the death penalty.

"Actually, I want him to be tortured before he dies." 

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