A California woman was sentenced to nine years in prison Monday for threatening a group of gay men last year.
The sentence carries a $680,000 price tag for the state’s taxpayers and comes amid a national prison overcrowding epidemic.
Pearly Martin, 30, was convicted of making threatening and offensive statements toward a group of men outside a San Francisco gay club last April, ABC7 reports. She was also charged with a hate crime for her comments, but the jury hung on the charges.
Martin and several others had confronted the group of five men with a knife, and prosecutors argued that she had chased and threatened to kill the men, calling them “faggots.” Martin’s attorney argued that while she did use the term, it should not be considered hateful because she herself is bisexual and a member of the LGBT community.
The cost of imprisoning an inmate in California the highest in the country at $75,560 per year, putting a price tag of more than $680,000 on Martin’s nine-year sentence. The state also has a history of prison overcrowding, an issue the state has tried to address with a slew of bills since 2005.
While California touts a 25 percent reduction in prison population since 2005, the reality is that much of the 25 percent reduction may be artificial, as many inmates were relocated to local county jails at Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s order after California was sued in 2011 for overcrowding and had to comply with a prison inmate cap.
California voted to lower sentences for drug and property offenses in 2014 and approved earlier releases for the same offenses in 2016. While these changes did lead to real reductions in prison population, they also caused an “uptick” in crime, the LA Times reports.
Martin has been detained since her arrest on a $300,000 bail and will soon be transferred to a California prison.
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