Too White For Jail?
Tampa Judge Says Prison Cruel and Unusual for Thin, White Man
The Associated Press
T A M P A, Fla., Jan. 6
A judge refused to send a drug offender to
prison, saying that because he is thin and white he would be a
target for sexual assault.
Instead, Hillsborough County Judge Florence Foster sent Paul
Hamill, 41, to a treatment center and put him on two years
probation. He was being sentenced for violating probation on a
previous cocaine conviction.
Hes a small, thin, white man with curly dark hair, and I
suspect he would certainly become a sexual target in the Florida
state prison system, Foster said, according to a transcript of
the November sentencing hearing.
Ive been told they cant protect people like that. Im not
going to send a man like this to Florida state prison. That is
cruel and unusual punishment in my book, she said.
Prosecutors objected when Foster imposed the sentence, saying he
deserved some prison time, but would not comment on Fosters
statement when reached by The Tampa Tribune. They have complained
in the past about the light sentences they say Foster imposes.
A Fairly Racist Comment
Susan Rush, a law professor at the University of Florida in
Gainesville, thinks Fosters statement about Hamill was
Thats a fairly racist comment, Rush said Friday evening.
I can see why the prosecutors are mad.
Foster declined to discuss Hamills case specifically, but said
her general goal is to help people with drug problems get rid of
their drug problems.
Bruce Rogow, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University in
Davie, praised her decision in the Hamill case.
I think its a statement of great sensitivity; she is probably
trying to save this mans life, Rogow said. But I recognize
there might be an issue.
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