A Second Chance

When The Punishment Fits The Crime

Lets Face Facts! We all make mistakes. We all make WRONG Choices. Sometimes your going down life’s path, and detour. Not for any NORMAL reason. Just BECAUSE. Mistakes happen. But sometimes your Mistakes Hurt Others. Anytime you have an ACTION, there is a REACTION. It’s Just Life.

In November 1998, Joshua Earl Patrick “Josh” Phillips , then 14 was playing in his yard with his neighbor Maddie Clifton, 8. when Clifton was injured by a baseball.  Panicking, Phillips brought Clifton to his room where later he stabbed her to death and stored her under his bed.

In what was one of the biggest Searches in Jacksonville Florida over 400 volunteers searched the neighborhood and ponds for Maddie. The search ended a week after the disappearance when Phillips’ mother Melissa went to clean his room and found that his waterbed seemed to be “leaking”. Upon further examination, she discovered Maddie’s body hidden inside the pedestal of her son’s waterbed. She promptly ran outside her home and went across the street to get the police.

In July of 1999 Phillips was convicted of First Degree Murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.  While in prison, Phillips got a paralegal degree in 2007 from Blackstone Career Institute, a distance learning program. Currently he is housed at Cross City Correctional Institution where he helps other inmates with appeals.

In 2012 the US Supreme Court Ruled that sentencing juveniles convicted of murder a mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole was unconstitutional. Phillips, now waited to see if the US Supreme Court would make that law retroactive to ALL Prisoners, and that answer came in January 2016 when the US Supreme Court ruled  that a decision it had made in 2012, striking down sentences of mandatory life without parole for juveniles, applied retroactively.

On Thursday, Phillips was transferred from Cross City Correctional Institution to the Duval County Jail, where he is waiting for his hearing coming up on Monday. The hearing, expected to last 2 or 3 days is the third to be heard in the 4th Judicial Circuit  (Duval, Nassau and Clay counties) that will go under review in the upcoming years. Nationwide there are some 2,500 juvenile life-without-parole cases. In Florida there are about 550 inmates sentenced to life for homicides they committed while they were juveniles.

Most Expect Phillips to be re-sentenced to a term of Fourth(40) years in the Florida Department Of Corrections, and if so, with Earned Gain-Time, Phillips would be eligible for Parole or Post Incarceration Supervision Almost immediately.

Since the trial, Maddie’s parents have divorced, and Josh’s father has died in a car accident but Maddie’s sister, Jessica Clifton, said she understands Phillips has a constitutional right to have another sentencing hearing, but she hopes that the judge will rule to keep him behind bars the rest of his life.

“She doesn’t get a chance to walk on this earth again, so why should he?” Jessica Clifton said. “I don’t think I would feel safe. I would not feel safe at all. And I think that that is just worldly consequences. You do something wrong and you pay the price.”

No matter what is said in papers or in the news, No one really knows what will happen inside the court room. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Clifton’s. Jessica, your pain is our pain. Nothing can bring Maddie back. Losing a sister in this way is hard. But keeping Phillips in Prison going to keep you safe?

So today’s question is WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH.


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