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December 14, 2021

After Missouri expands parole eligibility for certain juve offenders, Bobby Bostic secures parole 25 years after getting 241-year sentence

The name Bobby Bostic may be familiar to some readers, as he became a focal point for debate and litigation over the application of the Supreme Court's Graham Eighth Amendment ruling prohibiting LWOP sentences for juvenile nonhomicide offenders.  Back in the 1990s, Bostic received in Missouri state court a sentence of 241 years for armed robberies and would possibly not be eligible for parole for nearly 100 years under Missouri law at that time.  Back in 2018, I blogged here about the sentencing judge's op-ed urging the US Supreme Court to take up Bostic's cert petition, but the Justices declined to do so.

Fast forward a few years, and Bostic's case in the news again reporting that MIssouri law has changed and that Bostic has now secured parole after serving a quarter century behind bars.  This local article, headlined "Sentenced to 241 Years as a Teen, Bobby Bostic Wins Parole," provides these details:

A Missouri man sentenced to 241 years in prison for crimes committed when he was just sixteen will be released next year after a quarter-century behind bars.  The ACLU announced today that 42-year-old Bobby Bostic has been granted parole.  He will be released late next year after being provided courses designed to aid him in his re-entry.

On December 12, 1995, Bostic and 18-year-old Donald Hutson were high on PCP when they robbed a group of St. Louisans delivering holiday gifts to a needy family. In the course of the armed robbery, Bostic shot one victim in the side.  Hutson shot another individual.  Both the gunshot victims survived.

Bostic was charged with 18 felonies.  He took his case to trial and in 1997 was found guilty on all counts. His earliest parole date was set for the far-flung year of 2201.  The trial's judge, Evelyn Baker, told Bostic at his sentencing, "You're gonna die with your choice," and added, "Nobody in this room is going to be alive in the year 2201."

Baker retired in 2008.  Two years later, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a ruling in Graham v. Florida that “prohibits the imposition of a life without parole sentence on a juvenile offender who did not commit homicide.” Bostic's 241-year sentence, however, was not technically a life sentence. In theory, he would have been eligible to be considered for parole at the age of 112....

In recent years, Judge Baker has come to regret the 241-year sentence she handed down to Bostic, writing in an op-ed published in Riverfront Times last year that, "At the time, I didn’t know, and the criminal justice system didn’t understand how the juvenile brain worked and how long it took to mature."

In August of this year, the Missouri legislature passed a state statute allowing individuals who are serving "de facto" life sentences for nonhomicide crimes committed as juveniles to receive parole hearings after 15 years of incarceration.  The ACLU says that, in addition to Bostic, there are about 100 other individuals in Missouri prisons who meet this criteria.

Bostic had a parole hearing in November that, according to the ACLU, was "one of the first under the new law."  At Bostic's side was the same judge who had sentenced him to nearly a quarter of a millennium in prison.  At the parole hearing, Baker advocated for Bostic's release....

Donald Hutson, Bostic's accomplice in 1995, died in prison in 2018.

Prior related post:

December 14, 2021 at 10:45 AM | Permalink

Comments

Bostic needed to serve more time. Let’s hope that Mr. Biostic turns his life around and is a positive contributor to society.

Posted by: Federalist | Dec 14, 2021 10:51:23 AM

I trust Bostic's first order of business will be to apologize and make restitution to the people he robbed and shot, and that we will be as eager to follow his progress in doing those things as we were to celebrate the enormous truncation of his sentence. Should I hold my breath?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 14, 2021 11:25:49 AM

I wonder if it would be possible and/or make sense to require a prisoner to make a start on restitution before getting this type of parole. If they have truly been rehabilitated, could it be possible for them to do useful work, regularly and reliable, within the prison, to earn money for that, and to use a significant portion of it for restitution?

Posted by: William C Jockusch | Dec 14, 2021 11:27:19 AM

They probably can't make restitution:

Many federal inmates work for Unicor the federal prison industries. There is a waiting list of 25,000 inmates waiting to get jobs.

Unicor pays inmates 23 cents to $1.15.00 per hour and many of the products are made for private industry. Most inmates who work for Unicor use the money to buy tooth paste, snacks and small personal items.

https://www.bop.gov/inmates/custody_and_care/unicor_about.jsp

Posted by: beth curtis | Dec 14, 2021 12:11:19 PM

It's good Bostic will see release next year. He was 16 and made a foolish choice. However, not so foolish or heinous that he deserved a 241 year sentence. I hope more Missouri inmates sentenced as juveniles can seek parole pursuant to the new statute.

Posted by: anon | Dec 15, 2021 1:09:48 AM

"Enabling a man do to right, disabling them to do wrong". - Lao Tzu.

It seems to me that Mr. Otis and Federalist unfortunately focus largely, if not exclusively, upon the latter part of this quote. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't think so. To be sure, both parts of the quote are equally as important.

I would much rather have these respected voices calling for an equal focus upon, and a substantial increase, in efforts directed towards the creation of the support systems (proven to actually be more efficacious in lowering the risk of recidivism, e.g., stable housing, gainful employment, development of support groups, eradication of stigmatization, re-establishment of familial and social relationships, mentoring programs, counseling, mental health care, etc.), than advocacy for acts of contrition and remorse post-incarceration. Such acts, when forced, fail to create permanent internal change.

Besides, forced acts of contrition and remorse are NOT what victims seek. What they seek is a sense of security and peace of mind in the knowledge that offenders (a) are not a present or future danger to them, and (b) are actively and constructively rebuilding their lives, changing their behaviors and patterns of thinking, and becoming positive, contributing members of society. It is all of our jobs to assure that this is taking place.

I suspect there may be those who strongly disagree with me, They may point to rising crime rates and place the blame upon 'liberal approaches', and the "coddling of hopeless violent criminals". They may be surprised that I do not disagree with those who champion accountability for criminal acts, especially violent acts. Incapacitation, along with appropriate punishments and accountability are very important components of our system and I do not seek to do away with them.

However, after being incapacitated for reasonable amounts of time, and the punishment completed, and offenders return to our communities (as the vast majority do), we must then heavily focus upon rehabilitation as that goal is far from completed. It is the offender's success after incarceration that is the true test of our system. Not crime rates.

Posted by: Get Off Necks | Dec 15, 2021 7:44:02 AM

Bostic wasn't the only person impacted by this statutory change. He was not even the lead case in the Missouri courts even if he became the "name" put to this issue in the media. What many of the cases had in common was the victim miraculously surviving and the trial court using the multiple counts to create the equivalent of the life without parole sentence that would have been the minimum if the victim had died.

Posted by: tmm | Dec 15, 2021 12:15:27 PM

The numbers aren't consistent. Nobody now living will be 112 in 2201.

Posted by: Keith Lynch | Dec 24, 2021 3:16:31 PM

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