A growing body of Missouri legislators wants to ask Governor Mike Parson (R) to act on behalf of a man in state prison with a sentence that they feel far exceeds his crimes.
Bobby Bostic is serving a sentence of 241 years in prison. Now 40, he would be eligible for parole at the age of 112. Appeals filed on his behalf have been denied, even one on the grounds that the Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that people under 18 who didn’t kill anyone couldn’t be sentenced to life without parole. That didn’t apply to Bostic because he wasn’t sentenced to life; he was sentenced for 18 crimes.
Bostic was 16 in 1995 when he and an 18-year-old accomplice robbed a group of people delivering Christmas presents for the needy. Each man shot a victim, leaving one slightly injured. The pair carjacked another woman and put a gun to her head. The accomplice robbed and groped her before she was let go.
Schroer, an O’Fallon Republican, says he happened upon the case when someone posted an old story about Bostic on Twitter. He sent Bostic a letter and the two began talking, and shortly thereafter Schroer and other representatives met with Bostic at the Jefferson City Correctional Center. It was then that Schroer decided he wanted to see the man given a chance at freedom.
One of the lawmakers that joined Schroer in that visit to JCCC is Representative Barbara Washington (D-Kansas City). She came to the same conclusion – that the sentence was too harsh. She and Schroer agreed to work with their respective parties to get as many lawmakers as possible to sign a letter to Governor Parson asking for clemency for Bostic.
“That’s all he has. That’s the only thing he has. The Supreme Court did deny his brief. They denied to hear the case on the U.S. Supreme Court level. I believe he’s had some appeals that have been denied on the state court level, and so at this point this is the only opportunity that this young man has had,” said Washington. “He’s lost his whole life for 24 years. Had he not been tried in adult court he probably would’ve been out at 25.”
Schroer and Washington say Bostic has worked to better himself during his time in prison.
“I’m not saying he’s a model prisoner – I don’t know his whole record – but what I do know is that he’s tried to take advantage of the opportunities that you can take in prison,” said Washington. “He didn’t even have a high school diploma or GED when he went in. He has received a GED and he’s soon to be completing his associate degree.”
Schroer said Bostic’s efforts to get an education show he’s on the right path, and said some of his actions on the night of his crimes showed at least some of his thoughts were on the right path.
“The female victim indicated that while Bobby was driving, the 18-year-old, while he was trying to find her money, groped her and then threatened to rape her, but it was the 16-year-old Bobby Bostic … that stopped any rape from occurring and got her out of the car,” said Schroer.
The judge who handed Bostic his sentence has said publicly that she now regrets, “deeply,” that decision, and wants to meet with Bostic. Schroer believes something another judge – Missouri’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Zel Fischer – said in his State of the Judiciary Address this week also applies.
“He indicated that we should be using our prisons to house the most serious – the criminals that we, as a society, are afraid of, not the ones that we’re mad at,” said Schroer. “I think listening to our chief justice it’s time that we give this man a second chance.”
By Thursday afternoon around 15 lawmakers had signed on to the letter started by Representatives Schroer and Washington – lawmakers from both parties and from both the House and Senate, with more having agreed to sign it.