Man who was given life sentence for $30 marijuana sale to be freedPosted by On

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A man in Louisiana serving a life sentence for selling less than a gram of marijuana is due to be released from prison, his lawyer has said.

Derek Harris, who is a military veteran, was arrested in 2008 for selling 0.69 grams of marijuana — an amount worth less than $30 (£23) — to an undercover officer who came to his door.

Harris was initially convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Then in 2012, he was resentenced to life in prison under the Habitual Offender Law, which grants judges the freedom to impose longer sentences on defendants with previous charges against them.


Harris’ previous offences were nonviolent.

Prosecutors in Vermillion Parish agreed to free Harris, who has already served nine years in prison, after the Louisiana Supreme Court granted him a new hearing last month.

The Louisiana Supreme Court acknowledged Harris’ claim that he had “ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing on post-conviction review”.

The veteran’s attorney, Cormac Boyle, said District Attorney Keith Stutes’ office had agreed that his client was entitled to a lesser sentence and had received ineffective assistance of counsel at his sentencing…

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