ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- An ex-con released early from prison after a change in the sentencing guidelines for cocaine possession has been charged with rape.
The change in guidelines affects thousands of inmates across the country. In Jacksonville, 81 inmates were released early this year because of the change; but in St. Johns County some are concerned about just one.
James Gilmore, 30, was released from prison earlier this year after his term was reduced. However, five month after being released from federal prison, the ex-con was accused of raping a 13-year-old St. Johns County girl.
Some said they believe Gilmore should have never been released early from prison.
"Given the time he was arrested and convicted, he should still be sitting in federal prison at this point in time," said St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Chuck Mulligan.
According to records from St. Johns County, Gilmore's criminal record includes several arrests for violent crimes. Gilmore was sentenced to spend 12½ years in prison for trafficking cocaine, but a change in the federal sentencing guidelines allowed him to be released after serving 10 years.
"About 40 percent of our docket was drug-related cases. Of those, probably 75-80 percent were crack cocaine related," said former federal prosecutor Curtis Fallgatter.
Congress passed the change in the federal sentencing guidelines. The guidelines used to state that anyone arrested with crack cocaine would face a longer sentence than someone caught with powder cocaine. However, now the sentences are now equal, and criminals who were sentenced using the old guideline, like Gilmore, have the opportunity to have their time in prison reduced.
"It's a decade in jail. That's a long time so taking off two and a half years is not much proportionately to the sentence he got. But, they had no choice. Congress and the guideline commission said that's the law and they followed it," Fallgatter said.
"Obviously, if he were still locked up, it wouldn't have occurred. We also understand the facts that the federal justice system had to make some adjustments. In doing that, it sent this individual back home," Mulligan said.
Gilmore is being held in the St. Johns County Jail on $500,000 bond.