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Unusual sentence for daycare operator

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Updated: 11/21/2013 11:12 am
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When Jan Marie Buchanan was arrested in May, she faced 30 years behind bars.

Two-year-old Steven Spurlock II, drowned in Buchanan's pool where she was operating an unlicensed daycare.

But his parents, who sat down for their first interview with Action News, say they never wanted Buchanan to serve jail time at all.

"We don't blame her," said Steven Spurlock. "I think she's a very good person. We understand how accidents can happen."

Spurlock said he and his wife Heather believe the guilt Buchanan feels is punishment enough, but they understand the legal system, and were supportive of Buchanan's unique sentencing Wednesday.

"I did not feel that she was a threat to society," said Assistant State Attorney Alan Mizrahi.

Mizrahi came up with a unique idea that would bring closure to the Spurlock family and save taxpayer money.

"It came to me that perhaps she should remember the life that was lost annually."

Mizrahi proposed that for the next 10 years Buchanan serve two specific days behind bars: Dec. 9, the boy's birthday, and May 24, the day he died. She'll also donate $2,000 a year to the local charity SafeKids, which promotes child safety.

"My client felt it was more than fair," said Lonker Law Groups Whitney Lonker, Buchanan's attorney.

Lonker said Buchanan accepted the deal Wednesday to protect the Spurlock family from a lengthy trial.

"It promoted a form of punishment in a terrible tragedy without ruining everyone's lives."

The Spurlocks believe the punishment is fair, and that the justice system was successful in this case.

"There is no punishment that's going to give us our child back," said Heather Spurlock, "but at least we have closure and can move on."

The Spurlocks have continued their friendship with Jan Marie Buchanan. They say they knew she was operating her daycare without a license, but understood she had applied for one with the Department of Children and Families. Their son suffered from a serious medical condition and they felt Buchanan was best equipped to care for him because she was a nurse.

Mizrahi confirms Buchanan was two classes away from obtaining her daycare license. The criminal charge for operating without one was dropped during the plea deal because it was a misdemeanor and the new charge was a felony. However, under the agreement, Buchanan will not have a felony record.

In addition to the sentence, Buchanan will serve 10 years probation, pay all court costs, and cannot operate a day care during her probation period.

The family has set up a fund in memory of Steven Spurlock at 121 Financial Credit Union. The money will help pay for self-rescue swim lessons for infants from families in need. To learn more, contact ISR Self Rescue's Heather Smith at 904-625-8934, or Michelle Auth at 904-864-1182, or visit <>.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

c9bcrewman - 11/21/2013 4:50 PM
0 Votes
it's terrible about this child. the parent's should of did a back ground check first. there are plenty of legal day care's around and it might never happened. a real shame.

Truthseeker - 11/21/2013 4:33 AM
0 Votes
Finally, a case where good sense prevailed.
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