A Military Veteran Sentenced to Life in Prison for Selling $30 of Weed Will Finally Be Freed

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After spending nine years in prison for selling $30 of weed—0.69 grams—to an officer in Louisiana 12 years ago, Derek Harris will be released. He’d initially faced 15 years for the sale, but a life sentence came down under a habitual offender law that allows judges to impose even harsher sentences. Harris was recently resentenced to time served. Whether you count this as encouraging news of a kind or just another page in a perniciously unjust, cruel criminal justice system, a wave of national attention is increasingly focused on the need for course corrections like Harris’, and the celebration of his release is spreading. His lawyer says Harris will move closer to his family in Kentucky and looks forward to spending time with his brother. The broader movement to improve the scales of justice is growing, including in Nevada and Los Angeles, where 66,000 cannabis convictions were scheduled to be dismissed earlier this year. If you have personal stories of progress, broadly defined, drop a line to recharge@motherjones.com.

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