Courts & Crime

High Court ruling creates dilemma for Florida justice

MIAMI _ Kyan Bucknor was 15 in 1999 when he shot two patrons and unleashed a volley of bullets into Broward Sheriff's Office deputy Al Hibbert outside a Lauderdale Lakes nightclub.

The teen's sentence: life in prison.

Bucknor, now 26, will get a reprieve thanks to a May U.S. Supreme Court decision banning life-without-parole sentences for juveniles who didn't kill anyone. The ruling left Florida in a quandary: For undeniably violent crimes, what's an appropriate alternative sentence in a state that has no parole system?

Bucknor is one of 23 South Florida men _ among 100-plus statewide, the most in the nation _ who must now be re-sentenced under the Graham v. Florida ruling. So far, none has received a new prison term as the judicial system, case by case, county by county, struggles to comply.

Hibbert, the deputy who now works with at-risk kids as a Broward Sheriff's schools resource officer, thinks Bucknor needs to stay behind bars for life.

"As far as what I know about Kyan, he was not the type of kid who wanted to make a change. He wanted to do what he wanted to do," said Hibbert, who walks with a limp, the legacy of his wounds. "When he took that gun into that club, he made a choice. There have got to be consequences."

Since keeping criminals such as Bucknor behind bars for good is no longer an option, however, prosecutors and defense attorneys are staking out their positions, each seeking a solution that passes constitutional muster yet delivers justice for both defendants and victims.

Two possible fixes have emerged, from prosecutors and a lawmaker, both requiring mandatory lengthy prison terms followed by the possibility of parole.

Read the complete story at