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Stephens v. State

456 S.E.2d 560 (1995)

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Stephens v. State

Georgia Supreme Court

456 S.E.2d 560 (1995)

Facts

Freddie Stephens (defendant), a Black man, was twice convicted under a law that punished drug sale by no less than five years and no more than 30 years in prison for the first conviction and life in prison for the second or any subsequent conviction. The statute required the state to notify a defendant that it was seeking a life sentence as a prerequisite to the court’s imposing a life sentence. Statewide statistics showed that 98.4 percent of convicts serving life sentences for drug offenses were Black even though Blacks made upon only 27 percent of the population. The statistics also showed that less than 1 percent of life-eligible Whites were sentenced to life in prison compared to 16.6 percent of Blacks. In Hall County, where Stephens was convicted, 100 percent of convicts serving life sentences under the statute were Black. The state (plaintiff) notified Stephens that it was seeking a life sentence. Stephens was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Stephens appealed his sentence.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fletcher, J.)

Concurrence (Thompson, J.)

Dissent (Benham, J.)

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