MIAMI - Quartavious Davis is still shocked by what happened to him in federal court two months ago.
"My first offense, and they gave me all this time," said Davis, a pudgy African American with dreadlocks who spoke with Reuters at the Federal Detention Center in Miami. "Might just as well say I'm dead."
Davis was convicted of participating in a string of armed robberies in the Miami area in 2010. His accomplices testified against him, saying he carried a gun during their crimes and discharged it at a dog that chased them after one of their burglaries. But Davis was not convicted of hurting anyone physically, including the dog.
Davis would occupy no place at all in the annals of crime if not for his sentence. Now 20 years old, he was sentenced to 1,941 months - almost 162 years - in prison without the possibility of parole.
On the day of Davis's interview with Reuters, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that life sentences without parole for defendants under the age of 18 constituted "cruel and unusual punishment" even in cases of murder. Unfortunately for Davis, he was 18 at the time of his crimes.
Davis's unusually long sentence results from a controversial practice known as "stacking," in which each count of an indictment is counted as a separate crime, thus transforming a first-time defendant into a "habitual criminal" subject to multiple sentences and mandatory sentencing guidelines.