Skip to comments.St. Petersburg woman walks out of prison after her sentence is commuted
Posted on 12/10/2010 8:36:16 PM PST by devane617
Freedom tasted like China Wok takeout at the Baker home Friday night.
Shrimp fried rice, ribs, fried chicken, canned soda. It was the first meal that Monique Baker, 50, shared with her family after two decades behind bars.
The family joined hands. Baker led them in prayer before they sat down to eat.
Baker had skipped lunch at the Hillsborough Correctional Institution earlier that day. She was determined that a breakfast of toast and a few spoonfuls of grits would be her last meal as a prisoner.
The afternoon before, her sentence of 35 years was undone at a session of the Florida Board of Executive Clemency. Baker was sentenced in 1990 on charges of drug trafficking. With gain time, she was to be released in 2017.
At home Friday night, Baker asked her brother Jay to please pass the hot sauce. Everything was a focus of fascination, including the table china.
"I am eating with a fork, not a spork," Baker observed, child-like, at the family dining table.
Her father asked: "What's a spork?"
Earlier that evening, Baker looked to the sky as she stepped through the prison door with her parents.
"It's nighttime and I'm outside with the stars and that's something we don't do in prison," Baker told a gathering of reporters who were waiting for her release. "Freedom is a beautiful thing."
Her parents, friends and Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, pleaded with the clemency board to release Baker early. They said she fell into a bad crowd as drugs seized control of her life when she was young.
She spent her time in four state prisons: Lowell, Jefferson, Broward and, since May, Hillsborough. Baker had been a model inmate, honing her skills as a paralegal and teaching other inmates. In Hillsborough, she was editor of a newspaper.
The clemency board voted unanimously to commute her sentence.
It was a long way from 1990, when Baker was convicted of smuggling $395,000 worth of cocaine from Fort Lauderdale in a rented stretch limousine. At the time, police said Baker, 29, got the idea of using a limo from an episode of Miami Vice. ABC's Primetime Live featured the case, using it "to show the tremendous amount of time and money that goes into prosecuting one person in the war on drugs," the St. Petersburg Times wrote then.
Now, Baker told the group of reporters outside the jail, all she wanted was to go home and take a hot bath. She also was looking forward to a meal and surfing the Internet something she didn't have access to while in prison.
"That's something I can't wait to get on," she said.
With her freedom, Baker said she plans to help people in situations similar to hers. She and her parents thanked the clemency board, Gov. Charlie Crist and Rouson.
"I just want to say, Gov. Crist, I'm going to make you proud," Baker said.
Baker said that while in prison, she was only allowed to hug her mother for short periods at the start and end of visits. Now that she's out, the hugs can be longer.
"It's nice to be able to hug her and not be able to stop," she said.
She arrived at her childhood home on Kingston Street in Child's Park just before 8 p.m. Again, she peered at the stars in the night sky before stepping through the door.
The last time she was in her home, Robert Ulrich was mayor of St. Petersburg and George H.W. Bush was the president.
Back then, the front of the house was a screened-in porch. Her father has since converted it into a living room.
But some things had not changed.
Her Gibbs High School graduation photo from 1977 still hung on the wall.
Yet, how often do we read stories of people with several DWI/DUI convictions walking free and then killing others.
Sorry folks, but I think this stinks...
The DUI killers should probably be executed even if they don’t remember what they did.
If I had spent that much time in prison I couldn’t imagine wanting to set foot inside of a building, other than perhaps to sleep, for at least a few months.
You have no concept of how many peoples lives were ruined (including that murder thIng you’re so hung up on) with almost a half a million dollars of cocaine. Use your brain.
After reading this heart warming story, I just wanted to hug her, too. And hold her and squeeze her and pet her and call her George.
Rarely are drug dealers not associated with a variety of violent crimes. Liberal judges pushed by liberal advocates refused to discern between non-violent druggies and violent druggies. They released so many violent convicts, we took away their authority to decide with mandatory sentencing.
It’s a shame no matter which way you look at it. But our society got sick to death of being victimized by released criminals to rape, rob and kill and kill again. I am glad this drug dealer is out and I hope she does not make a fool of all who worked for her release. Often they do make fools of those who take mercy on them. Ask Huckster about that cop killer he released at the behest of the socialists’ race card.
I’m very anti-drug, but even I have to admit that’s rather severe. 20 years!? 7-10 would have been just fine, I think. Didn’t she get parole hearings?
I read a related story about Baker. Apparently the reason she got such a long sentence was that she was classified as an habitual offender when she was popped for smuggling 8 pounds of cocaine in 1990. She had been convicted of burglary and several other offenses to support her own drug habit, it seems.
For my part, I hope Baker really has embraced redemption and makes the most out of the second chance she has gotten. One never knows what’s in the heart of anyone, and the odds are generally against ex-cons staying clean. But I’d like to think this woman will be one of the exceptions. We’ll see.
It’s a fabulous waste of money to lock someone up for 20 years. Execute WAY more criminals and begin to devise real restitution/remediation programs in which lesser criminals are compelled to CONTRIBUTE to society. Way too many jails, way too many prisoners, none of it really working.
But what if... What if that cocaine had been worth only $50? What if it were available at your local pharmacy in 8 ounce bags? What if there was no penalty for possessing it or selling it and the only penalty for using it was the same as for excessive alcohol consumption?
To answer myself: I imagine there would be an increase of death due to overdoses - for awhile. After the “newness” wore off though the numbers would closely match those of drunkeness. While that might not be a goal to strive for the decreased numbers of young people killed in “turf battles” would drop and that would be worth looking forward to. Though not precisely “our” problem the drug wars going on just south of the Mexico border would quickly run out of fuel too.
Of course, the first (and least well-thought-out) arguement for keeping the penalties on drug possession is the old “How would you like it if your child were hooked on drugs?” canard. My answer: Why bother to hook a kid on something there’s no profit in?
Right now the only thing holding up the economy of Columbia, Mexico, and all the cities in the United States that depend on prisons for their livelihood is the illegality of drugs. Which is why they’ll always be illegal. Think of all the people who’d have to find other jobs if drugs were taken off the prohibited list. About a third of our judges would be out of work as would their staffs. The DEA would have to file for unemployment alongside all those narcotics police and the jailers that run the prisons.
No, drugs will always be illegal. Our economy depends on them being hard to get and expensive to acquire.
I knew it, I knew it, I just knew it.
Somewhere in this "news" article, the reporter would leave an impression that the perp was a...VICTIM.
(I knew it.)
I know how to run a prison system but they just won’t let me do it. Select a large Island hundreds of miles from anywhere. Fence off a small area with impenetrable barriers and use that for guards, inducting prisoners removing bodies, basing patrol boats etc.
Palmyra might do if it is big enough. You patrol the island with shoot to kill orders for any who try to get off by raft etc.
You simply leave the prisoners on the island to fend for themselves. If they want to kill each other, or whatever, just let them do it.
Of course this will just be for the worst offenders.
For lesser offenders there will be another island where the prisoners are given some protection from others if they seek it.
All prisoners will have to provide as much food as they can from the island. Only enough to barely keep them alive will be provided. This will be true of both islands.
yep, something stinks here when you look at the equation-
near 1/2mil equaling a spork
she should never have been released
This article is nothing but Prisoner Propaganda released by the MSM in support of lax laws for THOSE WHO BREAK THE LAW-it’s junk reporting and plays on people’s sympathies -making them think a long term incarceration is rehabilitation.
I give this ex-prisoner 90 days on her own outside the walls.
That's what I was wondering. Also, was she transfered from prison to prison for the same crime or was this for different crimes? If for the same, then what caused so many moves? There's something missing in this story.
Offender has a long history of offenses, convictions and prison terms started in 1981, in for 2 years, out and in again in 85, out and back in in 87, mostly forgery and grand theft, so they probably bargained harder offenses away. never served more than half her terms....
Date In-Custody Date Out-of-Custody
09/25/1985 09/29/1986 - sentenced 2yrs
10/23/1987 02/06/1989 - sentenced 5 yrs
03/29/1990 12/10/2010 - sentenced 21 yrs 4 m 1d
information public record in florida -
look under her name in their database - i would put direct link, but it contains some database session information that varies everytime someone else access database
She “fell into” distributing 8 pounds of cocaine.
Ooh boy, you must not know what crack is like and how quickly you can become hopelessly addicted. To compare it to alcohol is nuts.
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