Is SQ 780 enabling your neighborhood thief?

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In 2016, Oklahoma voters approved SQ 780, which extensively amended the criminal code to reclassify some felonies as misdemeanors and to eliminate stricter penalties for repeat offenders for certain crimes. Earlier in 2016, the Legislature had made changes to the criminal code with the same aim -- control costs by only locking up those offenders who really need to be locked up.

Now prosecutors are saying the changes are making it more difficult to keep thieves off the streets. What appears to be happening in some neighborhoods is that drug addicts, stealing to support their habit, are opportunistically targeting their own neighbors. From KTUL:

Neighbors in the Mayo Meadow neighborhood are fighting off burglars who they say keep coming back.

A new law may be keeping them out of jail.

About six months ago, Edwards almost became a burglary victim.

"We got a knock on the door about 4:30 in the morning," Edwards said.

It was police. Someone caught several people trying to steal from her El Camino.

"They had all four tires off of this El Camino in the trunk of the car," Edwards said.

One of those people was Isaac Franklin. He was arrested this week on multiple burglary charges in the Mayo Meadow neighborhood dating back to October, but court records show he's been in trouble before.

The story goes on to quote Assistant District Attorney Erik Grayless: "I think it has really tied our hands that we don't have the range of punishment and the taboo of having those crimes be a felony.... Someone can be caught five separate times with possession of a controlled and dangerous substance and every time it is a misdemeanor."

Among many other changes, SQ 780 deleted 21 O.S. 51.3, which imposed longer sentences on criminals who, among other offenses, committed multiple acts of petit larceny. As part of their 2016 reform bill, the legislature increased the threshold between petit larceny and grand larceny from $500 to $1000. So someone could steal $999 worth of packages from porches, lawn equipment from backyards, and electronics from cars every day of the week and never get dinged for more than petit larceny.

Every person who, having been convicted of petit larceny, or of an attempt to commit an offense which if perpetrated, would be punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary, commits any crime after such conviction, is punishable as follows:

1. If such subsequent offense is such that upon a first conviction the offender would be punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for life, such person is punishable by imprisonment in such prison for life.

2. If such subsequent offense is such that upon first conviction the offender would be punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for any term less than for life, such person is punishable by imprisonment in such prison for the longest term prescribed upon a conviction for such first offense.

3. If such subsequent conviction is for petit larceny, or for any attempt to commit an offense, which, if perpetrated, would be punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary, then such person is punishable by imprisonment in such prison for a term not exceeding five (5) years.

The KTUL story mentioned a particular suspect who lives and, it would seem, "works" in and around the Mayo Meadow neighborhood. Public records show convictions on several offenses, including one that converted a deferred sentence into a suspended sentence. Conversations among neighbors suggest several months of skulking around the neighborhood.

Isaac Lee Franklin, now 23, was arrested in November 2016 and charged with 2nd degree burglary, unlawful possession of controlled drug (methamphetamine/marijuana), and possession or selling of paraphernalia while not using a motor vehicle. Those charges were dismissed and refiled on February 8, 2017, as breaking and entering without intent, possession of a controlled drug, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Franklin entered a guilty plea and was given a deferred sentence by Judge David Youll.

On May 22, 2017, Isaac Lee Franklin and Demetrius Romont McClendon were charged with tampering with a vehicle. (That would appear to be the incident described in the news report.) On June 23, Franklin entered a plea of guilty. His deferred sentence from February was accelerated by Judge Sharon Holmes to a conviction and a six months suspended sentence with unsupervised probation. The six month sentence on the breaking and entering charge was likewise suspended, with unsupervised probation. He was required to pay $2,603 in court costs at a rate of $25 per month.

On December 4, 2017, Isaac Lee Franklin was charged with petit larceny. Franklin was arrested and booked into the Tulsa County jail on December 13, 2017. The offenses listed on his booking include 2nd degree burglary, disobeying a yellow signal, trespassing with warning posted, false declaration from burglary, and petit larceny. He is listed as 5'6", 110 lbs., brown hair, blue eyes.

Isaac_Franklin_Mugshot.jpg

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 16, 2017 2:50 PM.

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