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  • About Jack Strickland

    Jack Strickland is a retired AP writer who was nominated by our newspaper for The Pulitzer Prize. His writing about Florida prisons, cancer victims, sports, and just plain folks is a special treasury for readers. He is active in the war against cancer. He, himself, is a survivor. As a reporter he covered many of the major stories in Florida. He lives in Gainesville where he is an advocate for cancer patients of all ages. Jack finds special joy in getting sports stars and teams involved in the care young cancer victims. He claims that the athletes benefit from the involvement as much as the patients. He says he managed to miss many tackles as a football player long ago, and learned that defeat can be temporary and serve as the foundation for success.
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    Jack Strickland's Florida Tales...

    Jolly old Brits slam legal door on Tyson, but ex-con and author finds justice, warmth in Paris

    December 16, 2013

    Florida

    By Jack Strickland

    Mike Tyson has been banned from England. The colorful former boxing “Heavy Weight Champion of the World” was not allowed to get off a plane in London.  He was diverted to Paris where he was welcomed.

    Tyson is on a world tour promoting the release of his new book, “Undisputed Truth.” The autobiography is published by the United Kingdom’s prestigious HarperCollins U.K.  The 200-year-old company is one of the world’s leading publishers. They planned to kick off Tyson’s world tour at their home offices in London.

    British immigration squelched the plan. A new UK law bans anyone from entering England who has been convicted of a crime that carried a sentence of more than four years. In 1991, Tyson was sentenced to10 years in prison for rape. The sentencing judge suspended four years of that sentence and remanded Tyson to “The Big House” for six years. He served three years before being paroled.

    Under England’s new immigration law Tyson is forever banned from England. The new law flies in the face of what some call justice and fairness. What happened to the English concept that an offender does penance at a penitentiary, pays his debt to society, is forgiven, and gets a fresh start?

    Most reactions to the new law have not been kind to England.

    Bill Fleming, an American ex-con who has convictions for multiple offenses on his rap-sheet, supports the new law and salutes the United Kingdom. He says England is being honest. According to him any prison sentence is a life sentence.

    Ex-cons are not free when they are released from U S prisons.  He points out that America deceives itself when it claims to rehabilitate offenders and give felons a fresh start. Felons can not hold most professional licenses, possess firearms, travel freely, or live in most communities without first notifying authorities and registering with law enforcement agencies.

    Fleming works with prison ministries aimed at salvaging the lives of people who run afoul of the law. He is also a familiar figure at courthouses where he offers judges sentencing options other than sending young people to prison. His successful track record in turning around offenders, and putting them on lawful roads toward success, causes sentencing judges to pay attention to his recommendations.

    Fleming chuckles that he is a bonafide man of convictions. “If you don’t believe me,” he says, “take a look at my rap sheet. It will confirm that I’ve been convicted of lots of stuff.”

    He salutes England for its new law.

    “I didn’t want to go there, anyway, and now I don’t have to worry about anyone forcing me to endure their cold, damp, climate,” he says. “Besides, England has honored me by putting me in elite company. Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi both served more then four years in prison. None of the three of us are acceptable to England, these days . . . I may get ‘em to put that on my tombstone,” he laughed.

    Mike Tyson’s new book seems to be off to a good start in England. Promoting London sales from Paris seems to afford many advantages. Tyson is not complaining.