Burglar Freed After 16 Years of a 50-Year Prison Term Under New Re-Sentencing Law

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Publication: San Diego Union Tribune

Kent Joy Williams spent most of a decade getting high, breaking into people’s homes and going to prison.

In 2003, a San Diego judge looked at Williams’ “three strike” history of convictions and gave him the maximum sentence possible for two new burglaries and auto theft: 50 years to life in prison.

But on Thursday, Williams, 57, stood as a free man next to his family, District Attorney Summer Stephan and other officials to showcase his release from prison under a new law that allows prosecutors to take a fresh look at whether a convicted criminal’s sentence was unduly harsh when viewed under current guidelines.

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Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, carried a bill suggested by former San Francisco prosecutor Hillary Blout that allowed prosecutors to seek reduced sentences for suitable inmates and for judges to grant such requests.

Ting, at the news conference, said the bill did not require prosecutors or judges to take action, but gave them authority that previously had rested solely with the state Parole Board and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.