TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — If all went well, a man who has spent 36 years in prison for stealing his own tools would have been paroled on Wednesday.
Instead, Mark DeFriest must spend at least six more months in prison to prepare himself for freedom.
DeFriest was just a teenager when he stole the mechanics tools his late father had bequeathed him before the will was read. His burglary conviction resulted in a virtual life sentence after repeated prison escapes.
Florida’s parole commission gave him a break in 2014, and ordered his parole once he completes pre-release programs. They even had him transferred to Oregon to be close to his wife. But Oregon prison officials misread his file and classified him as a lifer, ineligible for release.
DeFriest’s lawyers urged him to remain patient.