Repeat offender given another chance, instead sentenced to prison

Police met with repeat offenders last November to offer warning
Repeat offender given another chance, instead sentenced to prison

A man who police hoped would turn his life around after getting another chance was sentenced Thursday to 12 additional years in prison.

Damien Smith was one of 30 violent repeat offenders in Madison who have been offered help in finding jobs, housing and volunteer opportunities as part of a new police program that also promises stiff penalties for breaking the law again.

After that meeting, police said Smith thumbed his nose at the system, selling heroin and crack cocaine, police said.

“He abused that and he placed the public at great risk in virtually everything he did,” Dane County Circuit Court Judge Peter Anderson said. “How many more lives does he have to put at risk?”

Dane County Assistant District Attorney Corey Stephan argued for the maximum sentence, while defense attorney Jessa Nicholson asked for a lesser sentence than what the judge decided.

Stephan said Smith was connected to shootings at two now-closed Madison bars last fall. Smith’s attorney argued he had not been charged in those shootings at ‘R’ Place on Park and the New Town Pub.

Anderson didn’t use the accusations in his decision but did say that, even if gun violence hadn’t happened before, “it’ll happen soon” as a result of Smith’s drug trade involvement.

Smith spoke in his defense, at one point apologizing for his actions but also saying he had gotten “sidetracked” in life.

Repeat offender given another chance, instead sentenced to prison

“Just because I’m in this situation right now doesn’t mean I can’t still be a success story,” Smith said, before bowing his head as Anderson read his sentence.

Police said Smith and three other repeat offenders are facing additional sentences after going through the program meant to help straighten out their lives. Others are still in prison, while others are making steps in the right direction, said Lt. Tom Woodmansee of the Madison Police Department’s special investigations unit.

“If they reoffend, this is a classic example of what’s supposed to happen,” Woodmansee said after the sentencing hearing. “We’ve already heard on the street that associates of Smith are aware of what happened and are aware of the program.”

Smith is also facing federal charges of delivering heroin and cocaine, in which he faces 10 years to life in prison.

Police said one of Smith’s associates sold the heroin that killed a 17-year-old boy from Lodi in July.