Image by way of The Last Prisoner Project

This week, on June 17th, 2020, Craig Cesal was released from an Indiana prison after serving 18 years for a first-offense, non-violent hashish crime.

Across the nation, Cesal and hundreds of incarcerated individuals like him are being held on decades-long jail sentences for prices regarding a plant that’s now authorized for medical or leisure use in quite a few states throughout the nation. 

That’s the place the Last Prisoner Project (LPP) comes into play. To be sure that the advantages of hashish legalization make their technique to prisons and never simply dispensary homeowners, the LPP is rallying advocacy, funding, and a focus to try to commute the sentences of anybody sentenced to years in a cell for hashish crimes. Those targets have solely been accelerated by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the nonprofit group is now pushing to get supporters to name on Michigan’s governor to demand the discharge of Michael Thompson, a prisoner serving a life sentence for a non-violent hashish crime. 

“When the coronavirus started spreading in the US, LPP knew that we had to act fast to start trying to get our incarcerated constituents out,” Sarah Gersten, Executive Director & General Counsel at LPP, instructed MERRY JANE in an electronic mail. “We knew that due to the conditions of confinement — including overcrowding, lack of resources, and little access to medical care — correctional facilities would be highly susceptible to outbreaks. We were rightfully concerned that a cannabis sentence would become a death sentence for some of our at-risk constituents. Craig Cesal was one of those constituents.”

But whereas Cesal has now been launched to dwelling confinement monitored by an ankle tracker, he’s nonetheless part of the prison justice system, and there are nonetheless hundreds of individuals nonetheless locked up for hashish crimes that at the moment are authorized in lots of states.

In Michigan, regardless of a thriving adult-use hashish market, Michael Thompson has been in jail for over 25 years as a part of a life sentence, resulting from being caught with three kilos of pot. Gersten and her colleagues on the LPP have teamed up with Shaun King and Action Pac, amongst different superstar activists, to push a call-to-action marketing campaign to free Thompson, a black man thought-about excessive danger for COVID-19. “It’s a race against time before his cannabis sentence becomes a death sentence,” wrote The Last Prisoner Project. 

“This is a political issue. Those officials are not going to grant clemency if they feel that their constituents, the people that voted them into office, don’t believe these individuals should be freed,” Gersten instructed MERRY JANE. “So it’s imperative for anyone who supports cannabis justice to make their voice heard and let their elected officials know that they believe that no one should remain incarcerated for a cannabis offense.”

The Last Prisoner Project has additionally drawn consideration to their most up-to-date initiative with the help of celebrity cannabis users like Willie Nelson, Melissa Ethridge, and Vanessa Carlton.

“Can you imagine being arrested for pot and then being kept in prison for 25 years? That is what has happened to Michael Thompson,” Vanessa Carlton instructed Forbes. “Marijuana offenders serving sentences of life with out parole want clemency… I’m an enormous supporter within the Last Prisoner Project. Please assist me in highlighting this case in order that the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, would not overlook him. If the governor turns her cheek, Michael has to attend one other two years earlier than submitting once more.”

For extra data on how one can assist free Michael Thompson and assist with the nonprofit’s marketing campaign, go to The Last Prisoner Project’s web site here.

Follow Zach Harris on Twitter

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