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Name: Brown v. Mayle
Case #: 99-17261
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 02/07/2002
Subsequent History: 3/10/03 vacated & remanded

Prison sentences of 25 years to life for Bray and Brown’s petty theft offenses violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Brown’s conviction was for stealing a $25 car alarm. His prior offenses were for robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon. Bray was convicted of stealing three videotapes. His prior convictions were for robbery, some of them with force. The sentences were grossly disproportionate to the crimes, even in light of their prior criminal records. The fact that the prior convictions were more violent than those in Andrade v. California (2001) 270 F. 3d 473, does not justify a different result. Using sentencing enhancements as an additional penalty for the earlier crimes, as opposed to a stiffened penalty for the latest crime, could violate the Double Jeopardy Clause.