63ºF

Lonna Barton's attorney recommends nonviolent prison assignment

Attorney requests Barton receive treatment in prison for addiction problems

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The mother of Lonzie Barton should be assigned to a prison unit without violent offenders her lawyer argued in a letter to the Department of Corrections last month.

Anthony Blackburn, Lonna Barton's attorney in her Baker County case, sent the letter April 6 to the director of placement at the DOC. In it, he recommended Barton be assigned to the Gadsden Correctional Institute in Quincy, Florida, or placed in a unit that does not house violent offenders.

"In my opinion, if Ms. Barton receives assistance with her addiction issues, upon her release she can be a very productive citizen," Blackburn wrote.

He argued that because she was not convicted of a violent crime and does not have a lengthy criminal record, she should not be kept with violent offenders.

File: Attorney prison assignment request for Lonna Barton

But Rhonda Peoples-Waters, an attorney not associated with the case, said Barton may have to wait.

"Somewhere down the line, it's a good possibility that she will fall in line to get treatment. I just believe that it will take a little bit longer because of the traditional waiting list," Peoples-Waters said.

She said the waiting list is typically pretty long, and could delay Barton's transfer.

Barton is currently serving a five-year sentence for charges of child neglect and lying to police in Duval County. She pleaded guilty to those charges in January.

Barton also pleaded guilty in Baker County to four second-degree felony drug charges and was sentenced to seven years in prison, which will begin after she finishes her Duval County sentence.

"If she gets drug offender treatment, certainly it'll be helpful for her return to the community and hopefully she'll be a better asset to the community because she's gotten the drug treatment, which is one of the reasons why, most would contend, she was even in this position in the first place," Peoples-Waters said.

Peoples-Waters said it could possibly also help her, upon her release from prison, when it comes to re-establishing contact with her children.

"This may be basis for her to later say, after a few years, 'Look, I've been rehabilitated. I have the drug treatment that is necessary and therefore, I can somewhat be a good parent, or at least be a part of my child's life to benefit my child,'" Peoples-Waters said. 

Barton is currently in the women's reception center in Ocala.

The DOC still has to sign off on the request. 

Barton's son, Lonzie, was reported missing last July by Ruben Ebron, who told police that his car had been stolen with the 21-month-old inside.

Police found the toddler’s remains in January after Ebron led them to a wooded area on Jacksonville’s Southside where he had hidden him.

Ebron later admitted that Lonzie drowned in a bathtub while he was having sex with Barton.

Ebron is serving a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter and other charges in Lonzie's death.


About the Authors: