A Grand Rapids man released from prison last summer for a November 1998 murder pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal cocaine trafficking charge following his arrest in Southeast Grand Rapids with more than a pound of cocaine.
Keith Vonta Hopskin appeared in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids where he admitted to having at least a pound of cocaine he planned to distribute....
Hopskin told police he had been receiving several ounces of cocaine about two times a month since July, court records show. He was released from prison July 5 on a second-degree murder conviction.
The 38-year-old, who has a prior federal drug conviction, told investigators he paid $10,500 for the cocaine and was able to sell three ounces before police stepped in.
Now just to head off the coming furrowed brows, this is not an argument that we should send people to prison forever; the first principle of sentencing remains just punishment. It is, however, an argument against the delusion that, when we release criminals, we can expect them to become productive members of society. It is not impossible that that will happen, but the decided likelihood is, instead, that the Hopskin story happens. We need to bear this in mind when we told how much society will "benefit" from shorter sentences.