Woman pleads guilty to robbery, says prison is like home

AP News
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Posted: Aug 04, 2016 7:18 AM
Woman pleads guilty to robbery, says prison is like home

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A longtime inmate who was recently released from prison pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to robbing a bank in Wyoming and asked a judge to impose the maximum sentence, saying going back to prison would be like going home.

Just a week after the robbery, Linda P. Thompson, 59, waived her right to a grand jury proceeding and entered the plea to a bank robbery charge.

Thompson said she had already spent about 18 years in prison for various crimes.

"Prison is home to me so I'm just going back home," she said. She added later, "I'd like as much time as possible."

Thompson pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain that did not contain a recommended sentence. A bank robbery conviction generally carries a maximum 20 years in prison, though the term can be lengthened when previous convictions are considered.

Thompson's attorney, David Weiss, said outside court that it's unusual to represent a defendant who wants to go back to prison and "exceptional" to have one who wants so much prison time.

He described Thompson as competent and intelligent and an advocate for transgender prison inmates. She was featured a decade ago in a documentary film titled "Cruel and Unusual" that examined the lives of transgender prisoners.

Thompson was arrested July 27 after a US Bank branch in Cheyenne was robbed by a woman who tossed the money into the air outside and offered some to passers-by. She then sat down and waited for police to arrive.

Thompson told U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal that she was released June 21 from Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, Oregon, where she said she had served six years after a robbery conviction.

Thompson said she protested her release from the prison but her request to stay was denied.

She said she "hopped" a freight train headed for Wyoming, where her plan to stay ended when she was assaulted in a park on July 24 and decided she was better off in prison.

"The easiest way to get there is rob a bank," Thompson said.

Thompson was polite while speaking to the judge, and joked with her attorney. She interrupted the hearing once to ask permission to sit down because of back pain.

Freudenthal set sentencing for Oct. 12 after a pre-sentence investigation is completed.