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 house 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marijuana in Michigan has led to a drive to see Thompson, who isn’t technically eligible for parole till he’s 87 years outdated, launched from jail early.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 legal professional 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 Basic 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.

“Typically 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 perform a little time,” Nessel said. “However I used to be shocked and horrified after 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 stated 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 stated, 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 period when draconian drug legal guidelines had been prevalent in Michigan.”

Michigan Man Seeks Parole After Decades In Prison For Nonviolent Pot Offense
Michael Thompson; Photograph 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 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 gaggle working to finish incarceration for marijuana convictions.

“Michigan’s failure to handle 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 by some means, as a result of her parole board refuses to carry out its statutory obligation in a well timed vogue, 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 against the law that harm nobody.”

“Rudi Gammo, who operated a medical dispensary in Detroit and solely offered to sufferers with legitimate medical playing cards, is serving greater than 5 years in jail. I received the celeb remedy after I received arrested, and the disparity between my consequence 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 among 13 states on this nation to legalize leisure marijuana however the one one which has not offered for non-violent felony marijuana conviction expungements or sentence commutations on the similar time,” stated Gersten. “Regardless of a marketing campaign promise to assist marijuana expungements, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has nonetheless achieved nothing to advance this vital coverage challenge, and other people have continued to undergo in consequence.”

Parole Board Meets Tuesday

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

Let’s hope so. Along with different well being issues, Michael Thompson examined constructive 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 suggest Michael Thompson’s launch by calling (517) 373-0270 or emailing [email protected]