Todd Oosterink - Florida
Sentence: 25 years (resentenced to 17 years)
Offense: Trafficking heroin; trafficking cocaine
Priors: Burglary (three counts); grand theft; (1987); burglary (1988); burglary; misdemeanor accessory to escape (1991)
Year sentenced: 2003
Age at sentencing: 35
Projected release date: April 1, 2017
Todd was born with brittle bone disease. He spent the majority of his childhood in Shriners hospitals where doctors administered daily doses of opiates to help him function. After his mother died, six-year-old Todd and his brother were placed into state custody and shuffled between foster care and group homes. Todd has broken or fractured approximately 350 bones in his lifetime because of his disease.
As he grew older, Todd turned to other drugs to relieve his physical and emotional pain. As he says, “Medications and drugs became a way of life for me.” Todd became addicted to alcohol and crack cocaine when he was a teenager and resorted to stealing to feed his drug habit. In April 1987, 18-year-old Todd was convicted of burglary and grand theft and received two years probation. In September 1988, Todd went over to a former girlfriend’s house, and after finding her with another man, impulsively grabbed her VCR and ran out. He was convicted of burglary and incarcerated for one year. In 1990, Todd was convicted of burglary and accessory to escape for picking up several friends who had committed a burglary. He was sentenced to almost one year in jail. Upon his release, Todd worked to turn his life around, earning his GED and working in grounds maintenance and telemarketing until his disability made it impossible for him to hold a steady job.
Despite his gains in other areas, Todd could not kick his drug habit. He was addicted to heroin and regularly using pills, cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana and alcohol by age 30. In 2000, undercover officers seeking to make a narcotics bust approached Todd and asked him to obtain some drugs for them. At first, Todd declined. One officer repeatedly pressured him, promising to make it worthwhile if Todd did him this one small favor. Todd gave in and agreed to introduce the undercover officer to a supplier. The officer adamantly refused. He insisted that Todd personally get the drugs and bring them to him. On June 13, 2000, the supplier gave Todd 143.8 grams of heroin and 223.09 grams of cocaine. Todd then walked across a parking lot to hand the drugs to the officer—a decision that would cost him dearly.
Todd was arrested and charged with trafficking in cocaine and heroin. The charges carried mandatory minimum sentences of seven and 25 years, respectively. Todd’s lawyer wrongly advised him that he could receive a 10-year term with 15 years probation if he pled guilty. In reality, the judge was required to impose a 25-year prison sentence on Todd. Todd received a longer sentence than anyone else involved in the sale.
During his incarceration, Todd was forced to perform hard labor in spite of his bone disease. The work severely damaged Todd’s knees and hip. After six surgeries, he is now confined to a wheelchair. The state will not authorize the additional operations needed to fix the damage. In 2007, Todd won his appeal and his sentence was reduced to 17 years. Though many aspects of his life are difficult, Todd takes enormous pride in his sobriety. After a lifetime of drug addiction, he has been clean for nine years. He hopes to become an effective advocate for the disabled population in prison.