Man never should have been arrested, sentenced to 105 years for repeated escape attempts

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Oct 11, 2022.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Mark DeFriest had a close relationship with his father and the two of them worked on mechanical projects. At the age of 19 his father died and left behind a large pile of specialized tools.

    Before he could inherit these tools, it was necessary to go through a legal process. Before he had finished the legal process, he opened the log cabin where the tools were stored, and took a few favorite tools.

    Although he was a mechanical genius, it is believed Mark had autism which affected his social skills. This likely may have contributed to why his stepmother did not like him, and also perhaps why he did understand the legal situation.

    Originally, when his father had still been alive, it had been no big deal for Mark to go into the cabin to borrow tools.

    But now that the father was dead, the stepmother was not happy about Mark going into the cabin and taking tools, and she called the police to report the "theft".

    When the police came, Mark was frightened and chose to escape. He was still holding a gun when he was caught. Because of this, he was sentenced to a year in prison.

    In 1979 he was arrested again and then sentenced to four years in prison for violating probation because of "firearms possession". (It is illegal for someone convicted of a felony to have guns)

    While in prison, he repeatedly made many attempts to escape.
    He never hurt anyone, although in one incident he managed to obtain LSD from the prison hospital's pharmacy and slipped it in the guard's coffee to drug them so he could escape.

    Because of these repeated escape attempts, he was eventually sentenced to a total of 105 years in prison.

    What had originally been a 4 year sentence was turned into 105 years because he had kept trying to escape.

    He had made escape attempts 13 times, 7 of which were successful. He used ingenious different methods to escape.

    He had never attacked or hurt anyone.

    (Although the charges against him did include one count of "armed robbery" during one of his escape attempts, while still inside the prison)

    In a few countries, like Denmark, it is not even a crime for people to try to escape from prison.

    Mark was not treated well in the prison and spent a total of 27 years being held in solitary confinement. Mainly because solitary confinement served as an "escape-proof" cell. He was the only nonviolent inmate in the Florida prison system being held in the solitary confinement ward.
    DeFriest was subject to abuse by prison guards throughout his time in the Florida State Prison. Ron McAndrew, who served as warden from 1996 to 1998, described the northern Florida prison as "ungovernable", describing situations where squads "composed of correctional officers roamed the cell blocks, beating and degrading prisoners with impunity", with these officers often ignoring violence between inmates and failing to protect them. Mark was a target of abuse from other inmates due to his inability to make social connections, refusing to align with any gangs in the prison and mostly keeping to himself. Those familiar with what goes on in an American prison are aware that an inmate who stands out, who is a loner, who is troubled and vulnerable, can be in danger of being attacked and taken advantage of by other inmates.

    Once, after an escape attempt, and being placed in the solitary confinement cell, prison officials deprived Mark of books, magazines, windows, sunlight, water and toiletries for 11 days.

    Mark had originally been arrested in 1979. In 2001, a college graduate found out about the case, while doing other unrelated research. Gabriel London spent more than a decade working on the case and filming the documentary "The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest". In 2014, the film was broadcast and received media coverage. For a time, Mark was praised by many people and became a "hero" against the "evil justice system" of the United States.

    Under pressure from public opinion, the Florida Criminal Review Board decided at the end of 2014 to reduce Mark DeFriest's sentence by 70 years.

    Mark was finally granted parole on February 5, 2019, with one of the conditions being that he have to spend another year in a mental health and substance abuse treatment facility. Community Outreach, Inc. in Oregon being the one that was agreed upon.

    By February 13, Community Outreach revoked Mark's residence due to unspecified behavioral violations. This raised the question of whether the Oregon facility was appropriately informed, prepared or capable of providing DeFriest with the treatment, structure, and care he needed for a successful transition into public life, as did the revelation that Mark tested positive for the illegal drug methamphetamine at the facility. The director of the facility described DeFriest as exhibiting "bipolar mania".

    The cumulative life stress of having suffered what he did during 40 years of prison probably did not help matters.

    Since the behavioral issues and drug use were violations of Mark's parole, Oregon began his transfer back to the Florida state prison system only 10 days after his release. Although advocates were initially optimistic for a quick re-release and second try, as of January 2022, Mark remains in prison in Florida.

    Sentence To 105 Yrs In Prison, He Escape 13 Times, The Most Intelligent Prisoner - Crime - Nigeria (nairaland.com)

    In my opinion, what was done to this man is really not fair. What was a tiny little incident, something he should probably not have even been arrested for at all in the first place, spiraled into a 43 year in prison punishment (so far).
    (And it likely would have been effectively life in prison if it was not for this story being brought to public attention)

    The law is not fair or right.

    A related story, you can also read about the Japanese infamous prisoner Yoshie Shiratori, who kept trying to escape because he suffered mistreatment in prison, and his prison sentence kept getting extended.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2022
  2. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    The countries where escaping prison is not itself a crime are Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Austria. In Mexico and Denmark it's not a crime so long as two inmates are not cooperating together to escape.

    There are other countries in the world that can be very harsh on any prisoners who try to escape, often regardless of the original reason they were put in prison in the first place.


    In my opinion, I think it does matter very much the circumstances why that prisoner was put in prison in the first place, when deciding how much punishment (if any) they should get for trying to escape.
    I mean both what the crime was, and the evidence that existed for the crime. (I'd have more sympathy for a prisoner if I knew there was a possibility they might have been innocent)


    Former minister on the Mexican Supreme Court, Juventino Victor Castro y Castro, explained why his country does not punish the actual act of breaking out of jail. "The person who tries to escape is seeking liberty, and that is deeply respected in the law… The basic desire for freedom is implicit inside every man every person, so trying to escape cannot be considered a crime."

    Prisoners who try to escape from Mexican prisons can, however, still be criminally charged if during their escape they do things like damage property, bribe guards, or conspire with others to escape.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2022
  3. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    More is revealed about the abuse he suffered in prison in this article:

    "He was placed in solitary confinement for 11 days. During this time he was often muscled into a straitjacket, from which he managed to free himself twice, and leg irons. He was routinely doused by deputies with water and pepper spray. He was kept naked, shoeless and there was no mattress, running water or light in his cell. ...
    Not long after he was deposited at FSP, 15 inmates gang raped him. He underwent surgery to repair the damage that arose from the sexual assault."

    https://palmbeach.floridaweekly.com/articles/prison-houdini/
    Prison Houdini, Mark DeFriest could escape anything but a 35-year sentence for stealing some tools--that were his, Bill Cornwell, Palm Beach Florida Weekly, July 09, 2015

    Can any of us say we would not have been trying to escape under those circumstances?
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2022

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