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Criminal Procedure Keyed to Miller
Freddie Stephens v. State
Citation:456 S.E.2d 560 (Ga. 1995)
Under Georgia law, the punishment for the sale or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance was between 5 and 30 years imprisonment for the first conviction and life in prison for the second conviction. The prosecution must notify the defendant prior to trial if it intends to seek the enhanced sentence. Stephens (defendant) was convicted twice under the statute, so he received a life sentence. In Hall County, where Stephens was convicted, 100 percent of people serving a life sentence under the controlled substances statute were African American, even though African Americans made up less than 10 percent of the county’s population and 50 to 60 percent of people arrested for drug offenses. In Georgia overall, 16.6 percent of all African Americans sentenced for two or more convictions for drug sales were serving a life sentence, compared to less than one percent of white people. Stephens argued that the court should infer discriminatory intent from this data.
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