A Petersburg man pleaded guilty this week to theft in the third degree for a 2015 incident at the Salvation Army. His sentence elicited conversation about the limitations of the new criminal reform law SB91.
35-year-old Edward Rayborn received a 20-day sentence that Superior Judge William Carey converted to 160 hours of community service to be done in 6 months.
The victim in the case says she donated a backpack to the Salvation Army in July of 2015, later realizing she had left a fanny pack inside that she did not intend to donate. It contained a South African passport, a green card, $300 cash and an Alaskan Visa card. According to court documents, Rayborn, who was working at the store, denied seeing the fanny pack when she went back looking for it, but surveillance videos show him finding it.
The victim appeared at the sentencing hearing by telephone, expressing frustration and anger over Rayborn’s sentence and saying she felt her rights were violated by both Rayborn and the court. She said there was overwhelming proof of the crime and called his sentence a “walk in the park.”
District Attorney James Scott spoke up, with a certain frustration as well. He cited budget cuts and Senate Bill 91 – a criminal justice reform bill signed into law by Governor Bill Walker in June that aims at reducing recidivism. The law reduces jail time for misdemeanors. Scott said in this case the only way to get jail time, converted to community service, was to reduce the crime to a misdemeanor. Rayborn had three Class C Felony charges dismissed by the prosecution.
Scott said this case falls right into the area of those his superiors say shouldn’t be prosecuted. At one point, he referred to the legal system as “sloppy.”