Homeless man gets 15 years
for stealing cereal and milk
Mark Anthony Griffin leaves the courtroom after being sentenced.
A homeless man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after trying to steal a box of Lucky Charms and a can of milk from a store in Lakeland.
Prosecutors requested Griffin be sentenced as a "prison releasee reoffender," which enhances the punishment against defendants convicted of certain crimes within three years of being released from prison.
Chip Thullbery, of the State Attorney's Office in Bartow, said prosecutors took into consideration Griffin's long criminal history before seeking the 15-year prison sentence. "The state believes Mr. Griffin does not wish to stop committing crimes," he said.
Griffin has more than 50 prior convictions -- mostly misdemeanor charges like petit theft, trespassing, disorderly intoxication, breach of peace and resisting an officer without violence.
At a Sept. 25 sentencing hearing, Joseph Griffin said his brother's behavior and criminal history are the result of alcohol abuse that began when Mark Griffin was 16 years old. "He needs help," said Joseph Griffin, an elementary school principal. "If he gets the help, he won't be in court."
Circuit Judge Donald Jacobsen said he agreed, but he had no choice under the law but to impose the 15-year prison sentence. "Personally, I think the money could have been better spent in treatment rather than incarceration for 15 years, but that is not my decision," said Jacobsen.
Read The Ledger report here.
That 15 years will cost the taxpayers of Florida $450,000 or thereabouts. Surely we could get him treatment for that kind of money.