America’s longest serving nonviolent cannabis prisoner to be released after 32-year sentence

November 23, 2020
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A man who is thought to be America’s longest-serving nonviolent cannabis prisoner is set to be released from a Florida prison after spending 32 years behind bars, a nonprofit has announced.

Richard DeLisi, who was sentenced to 90-years in prison for marijuana trafficking in 1989, will be released in December 2020, according to a release from The Last Prisoner Project.

While enduring the three-decade-long stint in prison, one of Mr Delisi’s children, his wife, and both of his parents passed away, the release said.

The 71-year-old says that he is excited to be reunited with his two living children, Ashley and Rick, and hold his five grandchildren for the first time upon his release.

“It feels amazingly wonderful to know that I will be home with my family and loved ones very soon. I am grateful to everyone who has been there and helped me along in these long years,” Mr DeLisi said.

He added: “If I could go back to 1988 I would tell my former self to put more value in the time I spend with my family. I have learned that money is something that comes and goes but family is forever.

“I am so excited to hug my children and grandchildren. I have missed so many important moments with them and I can’t wait to get out there and create precious memories with everyone. I am so thrilled that this dark chapter of my life is finally over.”

The early release date comes after the project, which advocates for inmates serving long sentences based on nonviolent, marijuana-related offenses,  and pro-bono attorneys advocated for release on Mr DeLisi’s behalf.

“We participated in decarcerating someone who couldn’t deserve it more,” Chiara Juster, the lead attorney on the case, said.

“The fact that dear Richard is the longest-serving non-violent cannabis offender currently incarcerated in our country is truly a sick indictment of our nation.”

Mr DeLisi was convicted alongside his older brother, Ted DeLisi for the trafficking in cannabis, conspiracy to traffic in cannabis a violation of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act by a Florida judge, USA Today reported.

The two brothers were given three consecutive 30-year sentences respectively, time that was beyond judicial guideline recommendations, the outlet said.

Richard’s daughter, Ashley, who hasn’t spent a birthday with her father since she was three years old, said: “I just want to hug my dad outside of prison.”

The release said Mr DeLisi’s official release date will be issued by the Florida Department Of Corrections (DOC) on 16 November 2020.

The Florida DOC did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by The Independent.

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