The state's repeat offender law was changed in 2000 to clear out nonviolent prisoners. So far, few are affected.
News staff writer Birmingham News
Their rap sheets were similar. Their prison sentences identical, life without parole. From there, Rex Norris and Willmer Miller faced dramatically different treatment from the criminal justice system.
Norris, 53, convicted as a habitual offender in a 1993 drug trafficking case, is home now. The Legislature and the courts had decided Alabama's repeat offender law was unnecessarily harsh, and a Jefferson County judge this year slashed Norris' original sentence.
Miller, 61, asked for a similar reduction after 15 years behind bars for drug trafficking. A different Jefferson County judge said no, and Miller died in prison while appealing.