A man serving a 90-year sentence for a nonviolent crime was released from custody, CNN reported.
In 1989, Richard DeLisi was arrested for exporting weed from Colombia into Florida. He was found guilty of racketeering, trafficking in cannabis and conspiracy and was sentenced to nine decades in jail, which surpassed the typical 12-17 year penalty. His original release date was scheduled for June 2022.
As DeLisi spent time behind bars, Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit that specifically works to “release and rebuild the lives of those who have suffered from cannabis criminalization,” advocated for the commutation of his sentence. They referred to him as the longest serving weed nonviolent cannabis prisoner, and explained that he was at risk of dying if he contracted COVID-19 as he suffers from several health issues, including asthma and diabetes.
The former inmate was ultimately released from prison after 31 years of incarceration, but for other reasons. According to Florida Department of Corrections press secretary Kayla McLaughlin, she noticed that he was owed 390 provisional release credits and applied it to his records, moving his release date up from summer 2022 to May 2021.
DeLisi — who had previously forfeited 120 days of gain time (sentence reduction) for disciplinary infractions — was also able to have his gain time restored as he was within 120 days of his release date —a general requirement for restoration. His sentence reduction helped to push his release up to Tuesday (Dec. 8).
Since becoming a free man, the ex-prisoner spent time with family members and met two of his five grandchildren for the first time, but his parents, wife and one of his sons passed away as he was serving time. His adult daughter also suffered a paralyzing stroke after a horrific car accident.
DeLisi’s newfound freedom comes after the House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would decriminalize marijuana use at the federal level and require the reassessment of former marijuana convictions.