Letters to the Editor

Time to review prison sentences

I recently read an excellent article (“It’s time for this killer to be released from prison”), authored by Mike Abrams and published in The Miami Herald on Aug. 25.

The article resonated within me as my sister and I visit every month a former neighbor who has been in prison for 30 years for a second degree murder conviction.

A judge, who later faced allegations of corruption and is now deceased, Ellen J. Morphonios, deviated from the recommended guideline sentence of 17 to 22 years. Instead, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Morphonios’ sentence exceeded all credible sentencing parameters that were applicable at the time, especially since the accused was not carrying any weapons and had a clean record until this tragic event. He was given a sentence that will keep him in jail until his death, according to present Florida law.

Many unsuccessful attempts have been made to obtain a pardon for him, especially now, when he will be turning 65 in just a few days.

Alfonso — that’s his name — like Harlan, the prisoner mentioned in the article, has a spotless record. He, too, would have a welcoming family and community of friends to receive him, and he certainly does not pose a threat to society.

Keeping Alfonso in prison is senseless. It purposelessly costs money to tax payers, as well as demonstrating that our present system, at least in some of these cases, practices revenge instead of rehabilitation.

Perhaps this timely article could be the start of a movement to demand an independent commission, as Abrams suggests in his article, that would examine each case without any biases or political interests, one that would be based on practicality and compassion, not revenge.

Perhaps it is time to challenge the Florida law that unjustly keeps second degree murder convicts in prison until death.

Leyda Vazquez,