Gloria Taylor is almost 30 years into a life prison sentence for drug trafficking.
Judge J. David Langford sentenced her to 999 years for 56 grams of crack cocaine.
Listen to Episode 002 of Felony Miami to hear host Joe Stone and Producer Dr. Bernard Ashby interview Gemena and Kisha Taylor about their experience growing up with a mom behind bars, and their efforts to see her freed from an unjust punishment.
In 1990, Gloria Taylor was arrested in Polk County, Florida for possession of 21 grams of suspected cocaine.
Police had been following her movements and whereabouts through a 24 hour surveillance order. They had previously arrested her in a suspected drug house, but could not prove the drugs were hers.
So a special drug enforcement corps from Lakeland Sheriff’s Office used confidential informants in controlled drug purchases at what they determined to be her drug operation’s headquarters. After a sting operation resulted in two separate hundred dollar crack sales, agents pulled over the car she was a passenger in, found cocaine, arrested her, and secured a search warrant for her home and car.
There, they found 56 grams of crack cocaine, and charged her for trafficking.
Gloria’s brother also lived in the house and is also serving life in prison for separate charges.
In court, the Assistant U.S. Attorney offered Gloria Taylor’s public defender a plea agreement. He would drop the possession counts, and she would be sentenced according to guidelines which called for a minimum of three years. She would also be sentenced as a habitual felony offender. An earlier charge of armed robbery would be used to “habitualize” her as a career criminal, and the judge could go outside the guideline limits in his sentencing.
The handwritten #7 clause reads, “Defendant is to be sentenced 12 years (bottom end of permitted range) to run concurrent on each count and concurrent with any other sentences.”
Concurrent means that sentences for multiple charges can be served at the same time.
Assistant Public Defender Austin H Maslanik, who retired in 2015 after 37 years, advised Gloria Taylor to sign the agreement, which she did; then he filed a motion to withdraw it, was denied by the judge, and could not stop the consequence.
The “Public Defender’s motion to withdraw plea heard, considered, and denied. State seeks to habitualize the defendant under the career criminal statue (sic). Motion heard, considered, and granted. Defendant sentenced as a habitual offender.”
What neither she or her public defender knew when she accepted the plea is that judge and prosecutor at their discretion sought to max out her sentence at 999 years.
The Assistant State Attorney used purposely misleading language such that an experienced lawyer could not determine its meaning. The judge denied the defendant her right to be fully informed of the literal meaning of the plea agreement, and thus violated her constitutional right to a fair trial.
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Public investigation records we have examined have recorded the approximate value of Gloria’s drugs at $5,000.
As it is, the system has decided she should die in prison. She has exhausted all her appeals.
Do you think Gloria Taylor should spend more than 30 years in prison for $5,000 worth of drugs?
Let’s Air It Out.
If you would like to send Gloria Taylor a letter, here is her address: