Byline: DEBORAH CEARNAL
Michael Renard Jackson was a teenager when he was sent to prison; he has spent more years incarcerated than he has living freely.
Jackson now is accused of the murder and sexual assault of a Middleburg woman and faces the remainder of his years behind bars - or the death penalty. Detectives will present their findings to the State Attorney's office, which will decide whether to take the case to the grand jury, which can indict Jackson for first-degree murder.
Had it not been for DNA evidence that connected him to the crime, the sex offender still could be living and working in the community.
He was doing just that when the crime occurred.
SENTENCED AT 16
At age 16, Jackson received a 30-year sentence for burglary and sexual battery convictions out of Duval County. The sentence handed down on July 30, 1986, called for him to serve 20 years in prison, followed by 10 years on probation.
The sentence amounted to 10,950 days in prison, according to a Department of Corrections spokesperson. Jackson got credit for the 127 days he spent in jail prior to the conviction. At that time, Florida was facing a shortage in beds for prisoners, so the legislature created "gain time" - credit for good behavior. Jackson earned 2,739 gain-time days. Gain time also lopped off as much as a third of a sentence when the inmate simply walked through prison doors. Jackson received 3,600 days for entering prison. He had 105 subtracted for disciplinary violations.
He spent 6,234 days in prison. That's 17 years locked up.
"Michael Jackson ended his sentence by the guidelines. He served his sentence according to law," said Jo Ellyn Rackleff of the Department of Corrections in Tallahassee.
PUT ON PROBATION
Jackson began his probation Feb. 22, 1999 in Duval County - then St. Johns County. By July, he had violated the terms of the probation by being arrested on new charges - burglary and sexual battery. A jury in St. Johns County on March 6, 2000, found Jackson not guilty of the charges
Jackson's probation was continued and he transferred it to St. Lucie County, when it was recommended he be sent to a facility that holds sex-crime offenders under civil orders. Called the Jimmy Ryce Act, the 1999 law allows for holding the convicted person the supervising agency says it believes could be a threat to the community. It's like a Baker Act, which allows for the involuntary commitment of the mentally ill, but it is for sexual offenders.
Jackson was in custody in the Arcadia facility from Dec. 6, 2000 to Dec. 8, 2005, according to the Department of Corrections.
Out of the Ryce facility, Jackson came to Clay County in December 2005. He generally was following his orders of probation by working, reporting when he was supposed to and informing authorities of his whereabouts.
"No one could have foreseen or kept this from happening," said Detective Melissa Dangerfield, who tracks the 174 sexual offenders and predators who are not on probation. "He was living where he was supposed to, reporting to probation and registering with me."
Jackson had, in fact, checked in with Dangerfield for the past three times he was required by law. His probation officer had made contact with him in the week prior to the Jan. 23 murder, authorities confirmed.
Records show, however, he violated his probation by not attending psychosexual treatment sessions; he was arrested for that on Sept. 18, 2006, and remained jailed until his case came before the court.
In a hearing Oct. 26, 2006 in Duval County, Judge Michael Weatherby continued Jackson's probation while discontinuing the requirement that Jackson attend counseling sessions, records show. …