Cris Ornelas reports for KERO TV 23 (ABC) in Bakersfield, California:
Police in Taft say a career criminal is demonstrating what's wrong with the new state law that keeps non-violent offenders out of state prison. The suspect is facing new charges that could have him spending 26 years in county jail.
Rodger Baxter is well known to law enforcement in Taft. Now, the law that keeps non-violent offenders at the county level to help save the state money means he could spend the next quarter century inside the county jail.The authorities in Taft like to say that 65-year-old Rodger Baxter is serving a life sentence on the installment plan.
He's never been given a life sentence, but he's been in and out of jail and prison so often, they said he will end up spending most of his life behind bars.Prosecutors said Baxter has four prior drug dealing convictions, but none of his convictions have been serious enough to get him a strike under the state's three strikes law.
Taft police say Baxter was set to get a nine-year sentence but was out on bond when he was busted selling drugs near Taft High School. Police say he bonded out again and then never showed up to court.
"He failed to appear in court, and the judge issued a warrant for his arrest," said Taft Police Lt. Pete Aranda.
Taft police picked him up over the weekend. The deputy district attorney for Taft said all together, Baxter could face 26 years. But, because of AB109, also known as prison realignment, which went into effect six months ago, Baxter would serve all that time in county jail.
"County jails are designed for a maximum sentence of up to a year," Aranda said.