John A. Steakely

Attorney John Steakley is a 1996 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. He began his career as the Special Prosecutor for Drug Crimes for a multi-county, multi-agency drug task force in Tennessee, where he represented the State of Tennessee in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases in a 5-county judicial district.

Man Sentenced to 1,000 Years

Man Sentenced to 1,000 Years

A Troup County judge has sentenced Peter Mallory to serve 1,000 years in the Georgia Department of Corrections for having a bunch of dirty pictures on his work computer. 

Mallory was charged with 60 counts of sexual exploitation of children, invasion of privacy and tampering with evidence. Troup County Superior Court Judge Dennis Blackmon sentenced Mallory to 20 years on 50 of the counts and ordered him to serve a concurrent sentence of five years for each of the remaining 10 counts.

He is eligible for parole in . . . seven years.

O.C.G.A. § 42-9-45(b)

An . . .  inmate serving a felony sentence or felony sentences shall only be eligible for consideration for parole after the expiration of nine months of his or her sentence or one-third of the time of the sentences, whichever is greater. . .  inmates serving sentences aggregating 21 years or more shall become eligible for consideration for parole upon completion of the service of seven years.

Basically, people are eligible for parole after 1/3 of their sentence, and any sentence of 21 years or more is still eligible at 7. 

Who realy loses here?  Georgia does.  No matter how it plays out, it is a black eye to the State of Georgia.  This outrageous sentence serves as a prime example of why Georgia needs to adopt a predictable criminal sentencing "grid" like the federal system and many states adopted long ago. Consider these scenarios:

  1. The sentence itself is evidence that the judge doesn't trust the GDOC to honor any sentence the judge gives.  Mallory isn't a young man.  A 50-year sentence is a life sentence, effectively, if that is what the judge was trying to do.  But the judge added another 950 years because he believes, or knows, that the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC) is going to undercut it anyway.  But by how much?
  2. If the GDOC applies their highest parole guidelines (Level VIII), Mallory will serve 650-900 years.  This would prove how Georgia law allows local judges to give people impossibly long sentences for offenses that aren't supposed to be life sentences.
  3. If the GDOC applies their 1/3 rule, Mallory would serve 333 years, again proving how Georgia law allows local judges to impose effective life sentences where life sentences aren't allowed.
  4. If the GDOC treats this as a plain-old life sentence (which it isn't), Mallory would be eligible for parole after 30 years, or just 3% of his sentence, while other inmates are serving 33% or more.
  5. If the GDOC applies their next highest parole guidelines (Level VII), or their seven-year rule, Mallory would be eligible for parole in less than 1% of his total sentence, demonstrating to everyone that many of the sentences handed down by trial courts in Georgia border on the meaningless to the GDOC.

So who is really in charge of sentencing in Georgia?  Can the judges put people away for life by stacking offense on top of offense?  Of can the GDOC do what they want regardless of what the sentence?  Or are these elected judges giving centuries-long sentences just so they can get good press as a "tough on crime" judge for the next election cycle?

A predictable sentencing grid weighing offenses against offenders would go a long way in getting rid of these embarrassing sentences, as well as modernize and standardize criminal sentences in Georgia.

Sources here, here and here.

Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.

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