We have all seen the headlines, “Fla. Mom gets 20 years for warning shot”. We have all heard some of the stories trying to tie this long sentence to race. What most don’t know is the history behind what happened. I’m not talking about what happened to Ms. Alexander but the history behind the sentencing. What most fail to realize is that it wasn’t the crime she was found guilty of, it wasn’t her race and it had nothing to do with a warning shot. It has everything to do with a law.
Since the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, the public has focused largely on Florida’s stand your ground (SYG) law. While many consider this to be an unjust and vague law, to me there is a more unjust law on the books and one that existed before Florida’s SYG law.
Back in the late 90’s there was a surge of violent felonies in Florida in which a gun was used. At the time, Florida had a mandatory sentence of 3 years when a gun was used in a violent felony. Jeb Bush, while running for governor, came up with and ran a campaign platform for the 10-20-Life law. When he was elected in 1999, the State Legislature passed Bush’s proposal and the law went into effect on July 1, 1999. In 2000 it was expanded to cover 16 and 17 year old’s who fire a gun and have prior criminal records. Read the rest of this entry