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Appeals Court Calls Padilla Sentence "Too Lenient"

Christine Detz |
September 19, 2011 | 8:13 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Appeals court challenges Jose Padilla's 17-year sentence
Appeals court challenges Jose Padilla's 17-year sentence
A federal appeals court ruled convicted terrorist plotter Jose Padilla’s 17-year sentence was inadequate.  The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the sentence on Monday, calling the sentence “too lenient” for someone with a history of violent crime like Padilla.

Padilla was convicted in 2007 on charges of conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim people in a foreign country, conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists and providing material support for terrorists.  The prosecution alleged Padilla plotted to detonate a “dirty bomb” in the US.

The 3-judge panel’s decision was split 2-1.  The majority opinion explained the panel’s decision.

“Padilla's sentence is substantively unreasonable because it ... does not adequately account for his risk of recidivism, was based partly on an impermissible comparison to sentences imposed in other terrorism cases, and was based in part on inappropriate factors.”

The decision went further, citing Padilla’s 17 previous convictions and the fact he was trained in an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan.

“Padilla poses a heightened risk of future dangerousness due to his al-Qaida training,” the judges ruled in a 73-page order. “He is far more sophisticated than an individual convicted of an ordinary street crime.”

The Justice Department originally appealed the sentence in 2008.  Padilla’s legal team is expected to appeal the conviction either in the 11th Circuit or the Supreme Court.

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