Life was mandatory for drugs
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 12:00 AM
A Philadelphia man's life sentence for drug possession without parole is mandatory under state law, the District Attorney said.
The case of the 24-year-old man sentenced to life in prison after a jury found him guilty as a habitual offender of two counts of possession of illegal drugs has sparked concern, however.
A Neshoba County jury found Corderro Seales, 24, of 105 St. Francis Dr., guilty of possession of cocaine and possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana.
He was found guilty as a second drug offender and as a habitual offender.
Neshoba County District Attorney Mark Duncan said the life sentence was mandatory for a habitual offender under state law.
"He went to trial and was found guilty by a jury and the sentence was mandatory," Duncan said. "The judge doesn't have any discretion if you are convicted as a habitual offender."
NAACP President Leroy Clemons said he was outraged when he learned of the sentence.
"I am outraged when I read about a 24-year-old male receiving life in prison for drug possession," he said. "The punishment seems egregiously excessive. The great irony here is that the proponents of this type of justice are so unwilling to learn from the past."
Similar comments were made on The Neshoba Democrat's Facebook page.
One woman said it was a shame that someone could get life for repeated possession of drugs "yet most won't serve a quarter of a life sentence for murder."
Another post called the life sentence ridiculous.
"Jail time, absolutely. Life is uncalled for. Rapists and murderers don't even get sentences like that," one man wrote.
However, another woman cited a need for tougher sentences in violent crimes, especially when a child is involved.
"As the child of a drug addict, who has chosen them over her family so many times, I'm glad to see this county cracking down on people who are selling them and helping to enable addicts," she said.
In December 2010, Seales was convicted of possession of cocaine and sentenced to three years.
Earlier in October 2007, he was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to serve five years.
At the time of his arrest on June 3, Seales was wanted by the Sheriff's department for questioning in another case.
He was traveling on Lakeview Drive about 2:30 a.m. when he turned his vehicle around in an attempt to evade a routine roadblock manned by police, the authorities charged.
Sheriff's deputies Josh Ray and Colby Clay and constable Ken Spears later arrested him with the assistance of city police.
While being transported to the jail, Seales tried unsuccessfully to swallow a small plastic bag of crack cocaine and marijuana, officials said.
SEC. 99-19-83 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 as amended addresses sentencing of habitual criminals to life imprisonment.
Mississippi law states:
"Every person convicted in this state of a felony who shall have been convicted twice previously of any felony or federal crime upon charges separately brought and arising out of separate incidents at different times and who shall have been sentenced to and served separate terms of one (1) year or more in any state and/or federal penal institution, whether in this state or elsewhere, and where any one (1) of such felonies shall have been a crime of violence shall be sentenced to life imprisonment, and such sentence shall not be reduced or suspended nor shall such person be eligible for parole or probation."