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. However 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marijuana in Michigan has led to a drive to see Thompson, who isn’t technically eligible for parole till he’s 87 years outdated, launched from jail early.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 Lawyer Normal Dana Nessel, who wrote a letter to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in August asking that Michael Thompson’s sentence be commuted so he will be launched on time served.

“Generally you hear one thing a couple of explicit one that’s incarcerated after which when you look additional, you’re like, perhaps this individual deserves to do some time,” Nessel said. “However I used to be shocked and horrified once I checked out his sentence.”

“I’ve practiced legislation for 27 years now and I’ve by no means seen something prefer it,” she added.

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

“Whereas technically authorized, the sentence imposed on Mr. Thompson is the product of a distinct time in Michigan historical past,” Nessel wrote within the letter to Whitmer. “First, Mr. Thompson had the misfortune of getting been convicted of drug offenses throughout a time frame when draconian drug legal guidelines have been prevalent in Michigan.”

Michigan Man Seeks Parole After Decades In Prison For Nonviolent Pot Offense
Michael Thompson; Picture from Michigan Division of Corrections’ web site

Marketing campaign Seeks Michael Thompson’s Launch

Thompson’s continued incarceration in a state the place pot is now authorized has attracted nationwide consideration, together with from tv persona 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 gaggle working to finish incarceration for marijuana convictions.

“Michigan’s failure to deal with restorative justice as a part of hashish legalization shocks the conscience,” Williams said in a launch from the group. “Governor Whitmer made a marketing campaign promise and but in some way, as a result of her parole board refuses to carry out its statutory obligation in a well timed trend, Michael Thompson stays in a Muskegon jail, now in his twenty fifth 12 months behind bars for promoting three kilos of hashish to an undercover officer in a criminal offense that damage nobody.”

“Rudi Gammo, who operated a medical dispensary in Detroit and solely bought to sufferers with legitimate medical playing cards, is serving greater than 5 years in jail. I acquired the superstar therapy once I acquired arrested, and the disparity between my end result and the outcomes for Michael and Rudi hang-out me,” he continued. “Madam Governor, it’s gone time to empty Michigan’s prisons of non-violent hashish 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 in every of 13 states on this nation to legalize leisure marijuana however the one one which has not supplied for non-violent prison marijuana conviction expungements or sentence commutations on the similar time,” mentioned Gersten. “Regardless of a marketing campaign promise to assist marijuana expungements, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has nonetheless executed nothing to advance this necessary coverage problem, and folks have continued to endure because of this.”

Parole Board Meets Tuesday

If the parole board votes to advocate clemency for Michael Thompson, the case will likely be referred to Whitmer for her to resolve Thompson’s destiny. Nessel has mentioned that the governor is “conscious of this matter” and “taking it very critically.”

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

You may urge the Michigan Parole Board to advocate Michael Thompson’s launch by calling (517) 373-0270 or emailing [email protected]