Oklahoma throws away key when sentencing rapists

From the _Rocky Mountain News_, Sunday, May 30, 1993

Oklahoma throws away key when sentencing rapists
By Charles Mahtesian
_Governing Magazine_

When Oklahomans say "lock 'em up and throw away the key," they're dead
serious. Juries in Tulsa County have been sentencing some violent sex
offenders to terms that won't end for thousands of years.

The millenia-long prison terms were handed down this March in two brutal
rape cases, including an attack against an 11-year-old girl.

In that incident, the rapist was sentenced to 3,220 years behind bars:
800 years for each of three rape counts, 600 years for lewd molestation,
100 years for kidnapping and 60 years each on burglary and robbery

He got off easy, however, compared with two men convicted 10 days earlier
for repeatedly raping a 34-year-old woman. Each of them was sentenced
to 6,475 years in prison.

Members of the juries told Sarah Day Smith, Tulsa County's assistant
district attorney, that they imposed the sentence after calculating
that the attackers would probably serve only one-tenth of their time.
Indeed, the average time served on a six-year sentence in Oklahoma is
less than one year. The jury "wanted to make sure those individuals
were never released again," Smith says.

As a parole board policy, violent sex offenders are not released
before serving at least one-third of their term.

But because there is no law requiring the board to stick with that
policy, an effort is under way in the legislature to require that an
offender serve a set percentage of his term. The "truth in sentencing"
measure would insure that a criminal serve a minimum of 80% of the