After underage romance led to 'sex offender' tag, harsh sentence, Florida man freed early from prison
Carlos Manuel Delgado was released from Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City on Wednesday afternoon — 13 years, 4 months and 24 days before the end of his sentence.
Or, from the perspective of Republican Gov. Rick Scott and members of the Florida Cabinet: Delgado spent 11 years, 2 months and 17 days in prison because of what they call a miscarriage of justice that branded Delgado a “sex offender” for an atypical crime.
In a rare action, Florida’s top elected officials voted Tuesday to commute Delgado’s sentence and allow him to go free. This is only the fourth sentence commuted in the last five years, according to state records.
They described his case as an unjust consequence of a “stupid decision” and “mistake” Delgado made in 2000 that didn’t align with the truly abhorrent crimes that Florida’s sex offender laws are intended to punish.
Absorbing his first taste of freedom in more than a decade, Delgado on Wednesday afternoon was still trying to take in his changed circumstances.
“From the point that the police came to get me, it was surreal,” he told the Times/Herald in a phone interview. “It’s been really crazy. It’s been super unbelievable.”