A Michigan man who has spent 1 / 4 of a century behind bars for a nonviolent marijuana offense might see a change in his destiny this week as a parole board considers his launch. Michael Thompson, a local of Flint, Michigan, was convicted in 1994 of promoting three kilos of marijuana to an undercover police informant.

Michael Thompson, now 69, was given a sentence of 42 to 62 years for the conviction, a time period compounded by earlier drug convictions and a weapons enhancement for firearms found when his residence was raided. But the nonviolent nature of his offense coupled with the legalization of marijuana in Michigan has led to a drive to see Thompson, who isn’t technically eligible for parole till he’s 87 years outdated, launched from jail early. In January, Thompson’s lawyer filed a request for commutation of his consumer’s sentence.

Michigan AG ‘Shocked And Horrified’ By Sentence

It’s an effort supported by state Attorney General Dana Nessel, who wrote a letter to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in August asking that Michael Thompson’s sentence be commuted so he might be launched on time served.

“Sometimes you hear something about a particular person who’s incarcerated and then once you look further, you’re like, maybe this person deserves to do a little time,” Nessel said. “But I was shocked and horrified when I looked at his sentence.”

“I have practiced law for 27 years now and I’ve never seen anything like it,” she added.

Nessel stated that Michael Thompson’s sentence is akin to what could be handed down for an “especially heinous” second-degree homicide conviction or one for a sexual assault involving torture. Punishment for a marijuana conviction, she stated, of a bygone period.

“While technically legal, the sentence imposed on Mr. Thompson is the product of a different time in Michigan history,” Nessel wrote within the letter to Whitmer. “First, Mr. Thompson had the misfortune of having been convicted of drug offenses during a period of time when draconian drug laws were prevalent in Michigan.”

Michael Thompson; Photo from Michigan Department of Corrections’ web site

Campaign Seeks Michael Thompson’s Release

Thompson’s continued incarceration in a state the place pot is now authorized has attracted nationwide consideration, together with from tv character and hashish activist Montel Williams, who was arrested when a marijuana pipe was present in his possession on the Detroit airport in 2002. Williams is a part of a marketing campaign to safe the discharge of Thompson and different nonviolent offenders sponsored by the Last Prisoner Project, a bunch working to finish incarceration for marijuana convictions.

“Michigan’s failure to address restorative justice as part of cannabis legalization shocks the conscience,” Williams said in a launch from the group. “Governor Whitmer made a campaign promise and yet somehow, because her parole board refuses to perform its statutory duty in a timely fashion, Michael Thompson remains in a Muskegon prison, now in his 25th year behind bars for selling three pounds of cannabis to an undercover officer in a crime that hurt no one.”

“Rudi Gammo, who operated a medical dispensary in Detroit and only sold to patients with valid medical cards, is serving more than 5 years in prison. I got the celebrity treatment when I got arrested, and the disparity between my outcome and the outcomes for Michael and Rudi haunt me,” he continued. “Madam Governor, it’s long past time to empty Michigan’s prisons of non-violent cannabis offenders.”

Sarah Gersten, government director and common counsel of the Last Prisoner Project, known as on the state’s governor to behave on circumstances like Michael Thompson’s and Gammo’s.

“Michigan is one of 13 states in this country to legalize recreational marijuana but the only one that has not provided for non-violent criminal marijuana conviction expungements or sentence commutations at the same time,” stated Gersten. “Despite a campaign promise to support marijuana expungements, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has still done nothing to advance this important policy issue, and people have continued to suffer as a result.”

Parole Board Meets Tuesday

If the parole board votes to suggest clemency for Michael Thompson, the case can be referred to Whitmer for her to determine Thompson’s destiny. Nessel has stated that the governor is “aware of this matter” and “taking it very seriously.”

Let’s hope so. In addition to different well being issues, Michael Thompson examined constructive for COVID-19 earlier this 12 months in a jail system rife with the illness. During his time behind bars, each of Thompson’s mother and father and his solely son have handed away. His mom’s dying want was that Thompson wouldn’t die in jail.

You can urge the Michigan Parole Board to suggest Michael Thompson’s launch by calling (517) 373-0270 or emailing Parole-Board-Staff@michigan.gov.

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