Court vacates light prison terms for Florida guards

Published: Friday, August 23, 2013 at 12:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 23, 2013 at 12:12 p.m.

MIAMI — A federal appeals court has thrown out lenient sentences imposed on two South Florida prison guards convicted of abuse against inmates.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered new sentencing hearings for guards Alexander McQueen and Stephen Dawkins. Both were convicted of obstruction of justice and McQueen of conspiracy for beating inmates with their fists and broomsticks in 2009 at the South Florida Reception Center.

A third guard pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and got a one-year sentence. To avoid disparity, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga imposed lenient terms of one year for McQueen and one month for Dawkins.

The appeals court found those sentences unreasonably light for felonies. The recommended sentencing guidelines minimum for McQueen was about 12 years and 15 months for Dawkins.

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