Caledonia family says Habitual-Offender Law is unjust

CALEDONIA, Miss. (WCBI)- Mississippi and 27 other states adopted get-tough “habitual offender” laws in the 1980’s to combat violent crime.

Often called “three-strikes” laws – as in, three strikes and you’re out – the tougher sentencing statutes mean anyone with a criminal history with previous felonies or even drunk-driving offenses could be convicted of being a repetitive offender and face a prison sentence three to four times longer than they would otherwise.

One man’s family said his sentence is unjust

Paul Houser has spent years of his life in Parchman State Prison for a drug crime.

His family said the last 13 years have been tough.

Because of Paul’s prior drug felonies in 1983, in 2007, he was labeled a “habitual offender” and sentenced to the maximum term, 60 years without the possibility of parole. He was convicted of possessing the items needed to make methamphetamine.

“He’s got 60 years and he has a nonviolent crime. He got less charges than what murders and rapists get. He never harmed nobody, robbed stole from nobody. He was an addict,” said his son Dusty Houser. 

Dusty has spent most of his adult life with his dad in prison. He said the grimness of his dad’s sentence is unjust.

“They’re not murders or rapists. I hate to put an emphasis on it, but the severity of the crime don’t fit the severity of the punishment at all,” said Dusty. 

“For what crime he committed, 13 years is that not sufficient enough?” said Dusty. 

Dusty worries about his dad’s state of mind.

“He called me one time before and said if they can’t get the law changed or they can’t change things for me in here I’d rather see if they’d give me the death penalty. I’d rather take my chances with God than to live in this nightmare I live right now,” said Dusty. 

He talked to his dad a day before lock-down began.

“He said, ‘just pray that I make it out. It’s crazy in here right now and if I don’t get to see y’all, y’all know I love you,'” said Dusty.

Dusty said he will continue to fight for justice with hope as his anchor

“He’s a good man and he has a good heart and he’s capable of being a productive member of society,” said Dusty. 

By the time of his release, Houser will be 103 years old.

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