Thursday, May 23, 2019

Prisoners Left Behind - A Rant

Prisoners Left Behind - A Rant

Paul Free leaving FCI Phoenix after 25 years

Prisoners Left Behind – Marijuana Offenders with Life

Today's Cannabis Business Plan is
Yesterday's Marijuana Conspiracy

This week-end I visited Paul Free in a Half Way House.  Paul Free a nonviolent marijuana offender who was given a sentence of life without parole in 1994 received one of Obama’s clemency’s that was really a sentence reduction from life to 30 years.  With good time, he was released to a half-way house on April 29, 2019.  Paul would not have been released by the First Step Act.  Nonviolent marijuana prisoners serving sentences of life for pot do not receive one day of relief from this legislation.  

Paul was one of 11 nonviolent marijuana people serving a life sentence who received one of the 1,715 commutations granted by President Obama.  The rest all had their petitions denied or left with no action.  Some of the prisoners left behind were, John Knock, Craig Cesal, Michael Pelletier, Ismael Lira, Ferrell Scott, Corvain Cooper, Andy Cox, Calvin Robinson, Pedro Moreno, Hector Ruben McGurk and many more.  They were all left behind by CP-14 and also receive no relief from the First Step Act. 

We supported and advocated for this legislation and celebrated when it was passed.  Many inmates will receive early release because of the First Step Act.  We have egregious sentencing in every category and they all need relief - women, juveniles, minorities, those sentenced for crack cocaine and many others.  It is a mystery why people with egregiously long sentences for marijuana were not considered for retroactive sentencing relief and so few received clemency

There are so many stories about sentencing reform and the First Step Act.  Those who are following this “transformation” believe that the worst is over.  Formerly incarcerated people and those who have fought for them are doing miraculous things and educating us about excessive charging and sentencing and talking about solutions.

There are however thousands of prisoners left behind.  All nonviolent marijuana offenders sentenced to life without parole for marijuana were left behind.  Those who have received life for pot will not receive one day of sentencing relief from the First Step Act.  Paul would not have freedom from The First Step Act.  He needed the compassion and mercy of Presidential Clemency or he would have died behind bars, most likely chained to a hospital bed. 

Life for Pot advocated for a narrow, but important category of people – those serving life sentences for marijuana and egregious de-facto life sentences for pot.  Paul, like many who are released left the prison with little fanfare to meet his brother and travel to a distant Half-Way house where he will live till Oct. 2019.  I’ve advocated for Paul’s freedom for many years and now it is close at hand. 
Antonio  Bascaro is another pot prisoner who was released the same week as Paul Free.  Antonio did not receive clemency nor was he released because of the First Step Act.  After serving 39 years in prison at the age of 84, Antonio had simply out lived his egregious sentence as a first time nonviolent marijuana offender.