Joining numerous individuals who have been released early from long prison sentences due to cannabis convictions, one prisoner named Richard DeLisi has been released.
DeLisi, now 71 years old, was released from the South Bar Correctional Facility in Florida on December 8. He was originally sentenced to 90 years in prison for selling cannabis in 1989 when he was only 40 years old. At the time, the sentence length was usually only 12-17 years, however, DeLisi believes that his lengthy sentence was due to the judge believing he took part in organized crime in New York.
While serving his sentence, his wife, son and parents passed away. His daughter was involved in a car accident that resulted in a paralyzing stroke. Over the years, the family spent $250,000 on attorneys’ fees and $80,000 on long-distance collect calls. However, news outlets report that he isn’t bitter about missing out on much of his life. Rather, he’s grateful for the opportunity to begin life anew. “Prison changed me. I never really knew who God was and now I know and it changed the way I talk to people and treat people,” DeLisi said. “For me, being there so long, I was able to take gang members from gangs to gentleman.” Now he has been able to meet his two granddaughters for the first time.
The Last Prisoner Project, which has previously assisted other prisoners convicted of cannabis crimes, had a hand in helping DeLisi. According to the organization, he was the longest serving prisoner of a nonviolent cannabis crime at the time of his release.
Now given a second chance, DeLisi is prompted to help other prisoners in similar positions. “The system needs to change and I’m going to try my best to be an activist,” he shared.