Richard DeLisi, the longest-serving marijuana crimes convict in the U.S., was freed ahead of his scheduled June 2022 release.
According to multiple reports, DeLisi walked out of the South Bay Correctional Facility in Palm Beach County, Florida, Tuesday morning — and for the first time in 31 years, he will spend Christmas with family.
“It actually feels like 10 times better than wonderful,” DeLisi, aged 71, speaking of his release, told the [Lakeland, FL] Ledger.
While imprisoned for marijuana-dealing, DeLisi lost his wife, his 23-year-old son and his parents. In addition, he never met his two granddaughters, thereby losing a “lifetime of memories,” CBS News reported. (RELATED: ‘Since You’re Giving Pardons To People’: Tulsi Gabbard Has A Shortlist Of Names For Trump)
DeLisi has been imprisoned since 1989 when he and his brother, Ted, were convicted of cannabis trafficking, “conspiracy to traffic in cannabis,” and violating the “Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act,” as a result of which they were sentenced by Judge Dennis Maloney to three “consecutive 30-year sentences,” beyond what the judicial guidelines recommended.
Richard DeLisi is a free man after serving 31 years of a 90-year sentence for selling marijuana. DeLisi was believed to be the longest-serving nonviolent cannabis prisoner, according to the The Last Prisoner Project which championed his release. https://t.co/i7uWtXHDVK— The Associated Press (@AP) December 9, 2020
According to additional reporting from CNN, the Last Prisoner Project worked with attorneys to champion DeLisi’s early release. Due to his risky health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic and his crime’s non-violent nature, they believed the case for his release was urgent.
The Florida Department of Corrections (DOC), however, denied any role of outside parties in reducing DeLisi’s sentence, USA Today reported. DOC Press Secretary Kayla McLaughlin said that a review of DeLisi’s records found that he wasn’t awarded 390 days worth of release credits as he should have post-imprisonment. The restored release credits, along with some restored “gain time,” helped hasten his release.
“I’m a blessed human being, a survivor,” he said on Wednesday, according to ABC7 news.