L.A. Third Striker Gregory Taylor Released After Judge Deems 25-To-Life Too Harsh For Trying To Steal Food
A man serving 25 years to life for a third-strike conviction based on an incident in which he attempted to steal food from a church was ordered this week to be released from prison, with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza saying he didn't deserve such harsh time.
A judge opposed to sentencing 48-year-old Gregory Taylor to a third strike more than 10 years ago compared his saga to Les Miserables. Espinoza seemed to agree when he revised the sentence to eight years -- time Taylor had already served. He was due to be released in the next few days.
Taylor was described in court as a homeless drug addict who was caught breaking into the soup kitchen of St. Joseph's Church, a crime that earned him a third strike after he was convicted twice of strong-arm robbery in 1984 and 1985. None of his crimes was considered violent, however. Espinoza said the church break-in was a crime of "drug addiction and homelessness.''
Even Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, calling the 25-to-life sentence "draconian," did not oppose Taylor's release. "Fortunately," he said, "you have a good judge who listened to the petitions presented to him."
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Taylor's case was taken up by Stanford Law School's Three Strikes Project after the legal clinic discovered his plight via the 2004 book by Joe Domanick, Cruel Justice: Three Strikes and the Politics of Crime in America's Golden State.
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