Man sentenced to life for selling $20 in marijuana is freed after 12 years

A man who received a life sentence after he was arrested in 2008 for selling a small amount of marijuana to undercover police officers was freed Wednesday after successfully appealing his conviction.

WWL-TV reported that 53-year-old Fate Winslow left prison on Wednesday after being resentenced to time served following an appeal launched on his behalf by the Innocence Project New Orleans, which argued that his counsel at trial ineffectively presented his defense.

His lengthy sentence came as a result of prior convictions for cocaine possession and burglary; Winslow was homeless at the time of his arrest and supporters noted that a drug dealer from whom Winslow himself purchased the marijuana was not arrested despite officers finding a marked bill which they had given to Winslow, according to WWL-TV.

“There are hundreds of individuals serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes in Louisiana,” an attorney for the Innocence Project New Orleans told the TV station. “He received an obscenely excessive sentence given his life circumstances and crime, and today, we are correcting that unconstitutional, inhumane sentence.”

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Winslow told reporters he will live with a family member following his release until he can become self-sufficient.

“I was so happy to get out,” he told the news station while getting a ride home from the prison. “A life sentence for two bags of weed? I never thought something like that could happen.”

Tags Criminal justice

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