Criminal Justice

Brickbat: Trolled by the Department of Corrections

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Daniel Ramirez

In 2008, Rene Lima-Marin walked out of a Colorado prison after serving 10 years in prison of what he thought was a 16-year sentence for robbery. In the years that followed, he served what he was told were his five years of probation without incident. In fact, he got married, started a family, joined a church, got a steady job and seemed to have turned his life around. Then, last year he got a phone call from the Denver public defender's office. His release had been a big mistake. He still had 88 years left on his sentence. He's back in prison now and not eligible for parole until 2054.

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  1. Uhgg, that sucks.

  2. Hmmm… if only there was an Executive (elected) that had some sort of power to what is it…change? Compare? Commute a sentence to fit…? A shame there is no such person.

    1. Yeah somebody needs to be up at the Colorado governor’s mansion letting him know about this idiocy.

      Couldn’t a judge also review it and deem the “bait and switch” a form of cruel and unusual punishment? This appears to fit the profile.

  3. I was just checking the DOC inmate website, and there is a person I prosecuted under the COP program who is not there.

    So the prosecutor in the case (Moschetti, now a judge) just happened to be looking up his convictions? How many cases did he prosecute and he just happened to stumble upon this one? He still has records of those cases in his personal files? And when notified of the error, signed an order as a judge to return Lima-Marin to prison? How the fuck isn’t that a conflict of interest?

    Lima-Marin seems to downplay what he was originally convicted of, but he seems to exactly what the criminal justice system is supposed to accomplish. Add on the shitty advice from his PD (surprise surprise surprise) and if not released on appeal, then should be commuted by the governor to time served. Of course that’s unlikely as most pols would be too scared that Lima-Marin might reoffend and worse, embarrass them.

    1. Downplayed, but it was a string of armed robberies. He claims the guns were unloaded, but I can’t be certain of that with the evidence available.

      1. So they sent a 19 year old kid away for 88 years – but eligible for parole in 56 years – as a repeat offender on armed robbery? Holy crap, we don’t put guys away that long for being stone cold killers….

        His public defender must have been a fantastic attorney to keep his sentence under life without parole!

        We really need to think some things through… although I don’t think we are capable. I mean, what is the point of locking a 19 year old kid away until he is 75 – and then releasing him? What the heck is he gonna do at that point? No money, no skills, 10 years past normal retirement age…. probably a couple of years before he is so sickly he has to go into a nursing home – at best…

        I get the notion that some people just can’t be trusted to live in society. And if we are gonna go with the “err on the side of caution” approach, maybe we need an Australia type situation where we can just send our undesirables away to live somewhere else. It sure would be cheaper for me as a taxpayer….

        1. All I did was state the facts.

          With regards to the sentence, it was probably a case of consecutive sentencing for each count. As there do not appear to be any actual injuries or fatalities involved, A shift from consecutive to concurrant might be called for. However, that issue should be raised with the Governer of Colorado. Who is that right now?

        2. What do you mean by “Australia type situation”? Why not just go with Australia?

          It worked for the Limeys, I say we just pile on.

          Besides our worst will be the best down under, so it is a win win.

          1. I suppose we deserve some punishment for Iggy Azalea, but doesn’t our gift of Hugh Jackman get us any credit?

            1. Look, we Yanks were jacking our huge dicks off way before you Aussies came up with a cute name for it. So, no you don’t get any credit for inventing masturbation.

            2. Not with the Russel Crowe offset.

              1. We do have to give them credit for AC/DC though.

            3. IFH, fret not. These dopes still can barely handle CANADA.

        3. I mean, what is the point of locking a 19 year old kid away until he is 75 – and then releasing him? What the heck is he gonna do at that point?

          Head down to Zihuatanejo and play chess with Andy and help him sand that sailboat? That’s all I can think of.

        4. “Tough on Crime,” and “Smart on Crime,” are mutually exclusive ideals. . .

          Locking a kid up until he’s older than dirt sure is tough. . . but not real smart.

  4. If ever there were something that fit the ‘cruel and unusual’ moniker, this would a solid contender.

  5. How incompetent can a lawyer be to not know the difference between 18 years and over a century — and not strongly hint to his client, upon getting released, to buy a plane ticket to another country and vanish?

    1. According to the article, his lawyer split after he was sentenced. He is told by The Man he can go, he goes.

      The article is worth a read. Armed robbers don’t usually hit my pity buttons, but sentencing a teenager to 98 years is fucking ridiculous – and then stooging him like this is appalling

    2. According to the article, his lawyer split after he was sentenced, so no legal advice was given. He is told by The Man he can go, he goes.

      The article is worth a read. Armed robbers don’t usually hit my pity buttons, but sentencing a teenager to 98 years is fucking ridiculous – and then stooging him like this is appalling

      1. Later in the article they explain that he robbed two Blockbuster stores by forcing the employees to open the safe in the back at gunpoint. Both occurred on the same night. Using creative prosecution he was charged with one count for each of the 3 employees present at each store…

        So two counts of first degree burglary, 6 counts of aggravated robbery, 6 counts of kidnapping… Because their county had a Chronic Offender Program (COP) designed to target young criminals who were likely to become repeat offenders, they were not offered a reasonable plea deal – they were charged and sentenced as separate crimes with nonconcurrent sentences.

    3. Sounds like the new prosecutor (Orman) is even worse than the original one:

      In a lengthy reply on behalf of the state, Rich Orman described Lima-Marin’s five years and eight months of accidental freedom as a great stroke of luck: How many other inmates would have jumped at the chance for a half-decade furlough? The fact that Lima-Marin lived like a model citizen for five years, Orman argued, should have no bearing. “Plainly said,” Orman wrote in his reply, “the Defendant had no business getting married and starting a family.”

      and

      Orman notified the judge of the error in a memo by 12:30 p.m., and had the judge’s order in hand two hours later. Lima-Marin was arrested that night, and the hearing that sent him back to jail took place the following day. “People talk about inefficiency in government?” Orman says, smiling. “This was very quick.”

      How can people be such dicks?

  6. holy willy whistle britches!!!

  7. “Um yeah, I’m gonna need you to come back in for another 88 years.”

    By PHONE.

    1. “Sure, I’ll be there Monday morning.”

      * hears footsteps, car door open and shut, engine revving, and tires squealing sounds from The Simpsons.*

  8. Good fucking morning to you, too, Reason. Merry fucking Friday, too.

  9. the same clerical error that brought him out of jail may have saved him. Without that error, he thinks, his time in prison may have been … turbulent and violent. Without that error, he might never have built a family at all.

    See, a clerical error can be a *blessing*! So, people who make them shouldn’t mind being subjected to the same results!

    1. There is no “might” to it. Without this error, he never would have had a family at all. He is not eligible for parole until he is 75. He went in at 19. 75 year old unemployed parolees with no skills and no job and likely poor health after a lifetime in prison…. well, they probably don’t have a lot of prospects for starting a family.

  10. We don’t know the whe story. Perhaps during a transfer he pulled a Not Sure on them and switched lines, securing the release. 5 years for DoC bureaucrats to catch a mistake like that seems a normal time frame.

    1. *snort*

      Thanks for the laugh Sloopy. I needed it after reading this story.

    2. +1 “That guy sat on my face and everything.”

  11. This is why governors have commutation and pardon power. Also, the fact that the guy was sentenced to 88 years is a good example of how fucked up criminal justice is. Yeah, he was a bad dude at 19, but 88 years?

  12. Taunting a convict with 5 years of freedom and then saying “just kidding” seems like an example of cruel and unusual punishment.

    It’s like An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge where SPOILER ALERT the guy getting hanged fantasizes an escape and just when he’s getting together with his family he realizes he’s actually dying at the end of the rope.

  13. If somebody spends 5 years out of prison without incident, then I think it can be safely said that, at least for those 5 years, the individual’s actions did not warrant incarceration. Prison is for the protection of society, not the punishment of criminals. If there is no protective interest being served, then give the guy a literal slap on the wrist every so often and be done with him. If he commits another serious crime, then put him in prison and throw away the key.

    I don’t know how the fuck we got into this “prison is the humane option” bullshit but it’s ridiculous. You are throwing a man in a cage surrounded by people he might never choose to associate with, many of whom cannot be distinguished from wild animals. You can’t prevent recidivism, but you should at least be able to prove that the man you are throwing in a cage has a demonstrated propensity for it before you do so.

    1. The justice system is embarrassed that it actually reformed someone.

  14. I get stuck at ‘armed robbery spree’.

    Y’ know? These weren’t victimless crimes. They were violent. People got hurt. These guys threatened to kill people.

    Frequently, it’s pointed out to the religious here that being good because you think some invisible guy will punish you if you’re not isn’t really being good. Well, Lima-Marin decided to ‘go good’ AFTER finding out about the typo that might let him out early. His ‘invisible guy’ had a real ‘heaven’ he could get to–by pretending to be good.

    Instead of reporting it and trying for an actual appeal, he chose to keep quiet and hope no one noticed. He knew he was in for 98 years, with consecutive sentences–and however much he thought it was unfair he made the wrong choice AGAIN and tried to screw the system.

    And now that it’s known that he was aware, does anyone really think that he’ll be able to get a good appeal after his 5 year hiatus?

    1. There are several goals in the criminal justice system, punishment, reformation, and keeping the violent criminals off the street.

      People need to be punished for their crimes, and not commit more crimes upon their release. By all accounts, he has reformed, and was happy living a life as a decent citizen until the court caught up with him. So in this case, we had a previously violent criminal set free, and then he got a job, and got married. I would chalk this up as a win for the criminal justice system. After all, a crook walked out of a prison a changed man.

      Oh wait, never mind there was a paperwork mixup, send him back to prison.

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