Sunday, November 11, 2007

Honey, the Marshals are here, I won't be home for dinner

Check out this Houston Chronicle story about a woman convicted of armed robbery who escaped from prison 33 years ago, married and lived a law abiding life for decades in the Piney Woods of East Texas, but is now awaiting extradition back to a Georgia hoosegow:
In the 33 years since her escape from a Georgia women's prison, Deborah Ann Gavin Murphey was able to evade authorities and keep most of her past to herself, carving out a small-town life in East Texas where she worked as a nurse and raised two children.
I've got really mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, nobody wants to reward a prison escape (and I don't know the statute of limitations for such a crime in Georgia). But from a public safety perspective, I'm not sure anyone benefits from her future prosecution or incarceration. Years of fear, isolation, and living a "hermit"-like existence (according to her acquaintances) surely were punishment enough, particularly coupled with years of marital stability, successful child rearing, and service as a practitioner of the healing arts.

Then there are the mitigating factors around her escape. Murphey, who was 20-years old when she escaped for the sixth and final time, was allegedly sexually abused at the prison, which the Chronicle reports did have serious, confirmed cases of sexual assault on female inmates during the time she was incarcerated.

Bottom line, this woman got away from a life of crime and made a life for herself and her family. Does it make sense to punish her now for what happened in the early '70s?

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Nope it doesn't, but it's what happens in Texas all the time: people are punished for crimes they committed years before, even when they have served their sentence for them.

If this case was in Silvaworld, I'd recommend a few years probation. It makes no sence to re-incarcerate her at all, and that's not 'rewarding' her for escaping either, she has shown that she is no threat to society and if she's been working then she's been paying taxes just like anyone else.

Anonymous said...

An earlier story reported that she answered the door with a shotgun when the marshals knocked and had to be talked out.

Sounds like she still needs to learn her lesson to me.

Anonymous said...

Which lesson does she need to learn? "Freedom isn't worth fighting for", or "Don't mess with Johnny Law"?

Catonya said...

This is a good example of one of the biggest failures/injustices of the criminal justice system.

Given the rising cost of incarceration - due mainly to a lack of rehabilitation, we can't afford the on-going revolving door.

On a related note, the courts need to give more consideration to an arrestee who takes the initiative and makes positive changes. Especially now when there's such a long delay between arrest and trial.

Anonymous said...

Justice need to be served. Question is how in the hell could she work and live in Texas. As a nurse at that.

Anonymous said...

She still needs to serve the remainder of the old sentence. That is her "debt to society." Sure, we can look at what at first glimpse seems to be her good citizenry since her escape and use that to detemine whether or not to prosecute for the offense of escape. She might get a pass and I don't have a problem with that, but she was convicted and sentenced and even though people will say, "it's been all these years," and "what does society stand to gain by utting her back in prison," she still has a price to pay.

Anonymous said...

She looks like a good prospect for parole to me. She has a family and a job and she evidently has stayed out of trouble for 30+ years.

If she split because she had been sexually assaulted while in prison that sounds to me to be a mitigating factor.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope this woman gets a really great defense attorney.

She deserves decent representation and if anyone deserves parole, I feel sure she does.

I also hope the prosecutor has the decency to consider more than his "win/loss" score!

Clearly the woman cannot possibly benefit from incarceration.

Anonymous said...


How about "serve the time for the crime that you were convicted for and don't break out of jail, and then don't meet marshals at the door with a gun ready for a shootout when you know they're there to arrest you."

Sure, she didn't end up shooting anyone. But she came close it sounds like. Not exactly the picture or rehabilitation that some of you make her out to be.

Anonymous said...


I couldn't a said it better! Like old Robert Blake used to say, Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

Keep your eye on the Sparrow.

Anonymous said...

How could anyone have "mixed feelings" about a woman that breaks out of jail? She was sentenced to serve and didnt. She should have a few years added for escape.

Anonymous said...

In this country we don't let people decide how they want to be punished. How many people would prefer house arrest to prison? Everybody. When she broke out and lived outside of prison all those years, she was avoiding the sentence she was supposed to be serving, it doesn't matter what sentence she imposed on herself. She should be forced to do the time she earned, not given a free pass for being a successful fugitive all this time.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hmmmm, so in an era of nursing shortages, some of y'all think that the world would have been a better place if she'd stayed in prison and then been denied a nursing license for an act committed before she was 20 years old? Is that right?

Why? To teach her "a lesson," to show her, in some cosmic sense, who's boss, not because you think it would make anyone safer (since it wouldn't). That seems pointless - why should taxpayers have to finance your vindictiveness when there's no public safety benefit?

What's more, is there really no room in your hearts, especially in the wake of modern revelations at TYC, to empathize with a 20 year old woman trapped in an abusive prison setting, or is it impossible to imagine how 33 years of life experience might have changed her?

That's a ruthless worldview a couple of y'all are sporting there. Perhaps testimony from her husband, kids, or some of the patients she's helped might convince a judge to be more forgiving.

Anonymous said...

I am as hardcore as they come. I think Perry was a wuss for commuting Foster's death sentence, and I think Keller was a hero for following the rules. I don't care if they go through the motions and let this woman go.

Kathryn Soliah, however, to hell with that bitch.

Anonymous said...

Wise and merciful judges.

Wouldn't that be wonderful?

I really think there used to be more wise and merciful people in this country than there are now.