America’s longest-serving marijuana prisoner freed after 31 years

A man believed to be the longest-serving inmate for non-violent, marijuana charges has been released from a Florida prison, and is set to spend the holidays with family for the first time in more than 31 years.

Richard DeLisi walked out of a correctional facility in Palm Beach county this week “grateful to everyone who [had] been there” and expressing appreciation for supporters and criminal justice reform advocates who say the now 71-year-old’s release was long overdue.

“It was so unjust what they did to me,” DeLisi told Florida’s Ledger newspaper. “I just hope that I can help other people that are in the same situation.”

Along with his older brother, DeLisi was sentenced to a 90-year prison term in 1989 after being convicted trafficking more than 100lb of marijuana from Colombia – as well as conspiracy and racketeering charges.

Both brothers received three, consecutive 30-year convictions, which well exceeded judicial guidelines for recommended sentences at the time. Criminal justice experts pointed to the sentence as part of the lingering “war on drugs” that saw incarceration rates rise sharply for low-level drug offenders in the 1980s and 90s.

While his brother eventually appealed and was released from prison in 2013, DeLisi’s appeal was rejected. He left prison this week ahead of a scheduled June 2022 release.

In a statement, DeLisi said it felt…

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