Longest-Serving Cannabis Prisoner Could Soon Be Free After 31 Years

A Florida man serving 90 years for a nonviolent marijuana crime may soon be a free man after 31 years behind bars.

According to CNNRichard DeLisi, 71, was convicted in 1989 for the charges of racketeering, trafficking in cannabis, and conspiracy for agreeing to help smuggle 100 points of marijuana from Colombia to Florida under the RICO law.

DeLisi could be a free man as soon as December 4. However, according to the Florida Department of Corrections press secretary Kayla McLaughlin, the actual release date still depends on several factors. He is currently serving out his sentence at the South Bay Correctional Facility located in Palm Beach County.

According to the Last Prisoner project, who picked up the case, DeLisi is the longest-serving nonviolent marijuana prisoner. The Last Prisoner project is a nonprofit that advocates for ending prison sentences for marijuana-related crimes.

“We participated in decarcerating someone who couldn’t deserve it more,” lead attorney for the Last Prisoner Project, Chiara Juster, said.

According to the “Free Richard DeLisi” website, DeLisi agreed to help out an old smuggling friend because of the debt he was in from serving a short prison sentence. At the time, his friend was working as a paid confidential informant for several different agencies.

During his incarceration, his parents, wife, and son all passed away. When he is released, he will be reunited with his two children and five grandchildren. 

“I am so excited to hug my children and grandchildren,” DeLisi said. “I have missed so many important moments with them, and I can’t wait to get out there and create precious memories with everyone.”

Richard DeLisi
Florida Department of Corrections

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