Just after Christmas in 2001, Corey Maye was sleeping in his home when armed men attempted to break into his home. To protect his family from what he took to be burglars, Maye fired three bullets from a gun at his bedside, and inadvertently shot a cop. The police were breaking into the wrong house – Maye and his family had no criminal record – in a no-knock drug raid. Maye surrendered to the cops and spent the next ten years in prison, many of them on Death Row, for the killing of a police officer. Many civil libertarians, foremost Radley balko, took up the case. And now, Corey Maye is going home.

After 10 years of incarceration, and seven years after a jury sentenced him to die, 30-year-old Cory Maye will soon be going home. Mississippi Circuit Court Judge Prentiss Harrell signed a plea agreement Friday morning in which Maye pled guilty to manslaughter for the 2001 death of Prentiss, Mississippi, police officer Ron Jones, Jr.

Per the agreement, Harrell then sentenced Maye to 10 years in prison, time he has now already served. Maye will be taken to Rankin County, Mississippi, for processing and some procedural work. He is expected to be released within days.

More of the backstory of Maye’s odyssey can be found here. There’s a lot incorporated into this story, including the drug war, race in the South and the many-tiered criminal justice system. But it’s also the story of how shining a light on these inequities can make a difference. Blogging from civil libertarians about the case got Maye a pro bono lawyer. The continued publicity led to the various trials and retrials. And eventually, Maye’s sentenced was changed to a level more suitable for his offense, and he will have served his time.

Criminal justice is a game of inches – it took an agonizing amount of work just to get a deeply injurious crack-cocaine sentencing disparity made retroactive, to the benefit of 12,000 offenders. But when it gets results like this, what you have is Radley Balko and some blogging colleagues literally saving a man’s life. It’s quite a feat.

David Dayen

David Dayen