Man Sentenced To Life Imprisonment For Selling Less Than 1 Gram Of Marijuana Is Going To Be Finally Free

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Man Sentenced To Life Imprisonment For Selling Less Than 1 Gram Of Marijuana Is Going To Be Finally Free

A U.S. military veteran who was jailed for life after being caught with less than a gram of marijuana is to be released from prison following moves by the prosecutor's office.


Derek Harris, of Louisiana, was jailed for 15 years after being caught with less than 1 gram of marijuana, worth around $30, in 2008. In 2012 though, under the Habitual Offender Law, he was resentenced to life in prison.


Habitual Offender Laws, which are active in numerous states, mean that convicted criminals can receive extremely harsh punishments for being convicted of multiple crimes, even if these crimes were themselves minor. In 1994 California famously enacted a 3 strikes law, which sentences criminals to life in prison once convicted of 3 felonies. 28 states, including Louisiana, have similar laws.


Harris had developed a drug problem after returning from the First Gulf War and had prior convictions for dealing cocaine and for theft. However, prosecutors acknowledged that Harris had not received effective legal counsel and agreed that he should be released. He has already served 9 years.


Under Louisiana law, the three strikes rule need not be enacted if the sentence 'shocks the conscience' reports NOLA. A fact that Harris's defense attorney didn't even bother to tell the judge at sentencing.


Harris' attorney, Cormac Boyle, made a statement regarding the agreement for release and attacked the Habitual Offender Law. He said:


"It is certainly time for Louisiana to rethink how it uses the habitual offender law. While in theory such a law may be fine, in practice it perpetuates and exposes some of the worst aspects of the criminal justice system."


The Washington Post reports that over 4,700 prisoners in Louisiana are serving mandatory life sentences, many for crimes that would not otherwise merit such punishment.


Harris now plans to relocate to Kentucky to live with his family and start a new life.

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Thinking Humanity: Man Sentenced To Life Imprisonment For Selling Less Than 1 Gram Of Marijuana Is Going To Be Finally Free
Man Sentenced To Life Imprisonment For Selling Less Than 1 Gram Of Marijuana Is Going To Be Finally Free
A U.S. military veteran who was jailed for life after being caught with less than a gram of marijuana is to be released from prison following moves by the prosecutor's office. Derek Harris, of Louisiana, was jailed for 15 years after being caught with less than 1 gram of marijuana, worth around $30, in 2008. In 2012 though, under the Habitual Offender Law, he was resentenced to life in prison. Habitual Offender Laws, which are active in numerous states, mean that convicted criminals can receive extremely harsh punishments for being convicted of multiple crimes, even if these crimes were themselves minor.
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