Missouri is defending an inmate’s extremely long prison sentence as leaders, including the judge who sentenced him, say his punishment was unconstitutional.
State Attorney General Josh Hawley said Bobby Bostic’s 241-year sentence for committing 18 crimes — including robbery — on a single day when he was 16, does not violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
He said a ruling that outlaws life sentences for people under 18 who didn’t kill anyone applies only when they’ve committed a single crime.
But Evelyn Baker, the former St. Louis judge who sentenced Bostic, regrets issuing the sentence.
She’s among more than 100 current and former judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers calling on the Supreme Court to toss out the sentence.
Former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates and former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr are among her supporters.
Bostic, now 39, has served more than 20 years in prison after he robbed a group of volunteers who were delivering Christmas presents in December 1995, according to the ACLU’s appeal on Bostic’s behalf.
The pair also carjacked a woman who Hutson robbed and fondled before releasing her, according to the ACLU’s brief. They used the money they stole to buy marijuana.
Hutson was sentenced to 30 years in prison as part of a plea deal.
Bostic went to trial and was found guilty.
Baker told Bostic he would “die in the Department of Corrections,” during his sentencing in 1997.
Baker recalls thinking Bostic had not “demonstrated sufficient remorse” in a letter he wrote her explaining his actions, she wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post.
“You are the biggest fool who has ever stood in front of this court…You made your choice. You’re gonna have to live with your choice, and you’re gonna die with your choice…Your mandatory date to go in front of the parole board will be the year 2201. Nobody in this room is going to be alive in the year 2201,” Baker told Bostic.
“I thought I was faulting Bostic for his crimes. Looking back, I see that I was punishing him both for what he did and for his immaturity,” Baker wrote in the op-ed.
She cited brain development research showing “young people’s brains are not static; they are in the process of maturing,” which she says she learned too late.