FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Reefer Madness, Louisiana-Style

As a former prisoner who served 12 years of a 15-to-life sentence for a nonviolent drug crime in New York, I know all too well the draconian nature of the war on drugs.

I was lucky enough to be granted executive clemency in 1997. Since my release I have continued to advocate for prisoners who are stuck in prison, sentenced to tremendous amounts of time for small amounts of drugs.

This year, one case in particular stands out and cries for justice — the case of Bernard Noble who was sentenced to 13.3 years of hard time for the possession of two marijuana cigarettes.

Earlier this year the Drug Policy Alliance tried to help by filing a friend of the court brief in the Louisiana Supreme Court, calling for judicial relief for Bernard Noble.

After Noble’s appeal was denied, many are calling on Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal to grant Noble executive clemency.

Bernard’s sentence is a prime example of the draconian nature of the marijuana laws in many states across the country. In stark contrast to Louisiana, many states have decriminalized possession of marijuana for personal use, with the offense being punishable by a fine and with no threat of jail time.

Also, four states and the District of Columbia have outright legalized, taxed and regulated the cultivation, sale, possession and use of marijuana by and for adults.

A range of important people are calling for justice for Bernard Noble.

One of them is retired Orleans Parish Criminal Court Judge Calvin Johnson who said, “[t]he mere fact our law is structured such that a defendant can be sentenced to 13.3 years in jail for possession of two marijuana cigarettes speaks volumes about our antiquated sentencing structure. It is imperative that we change the sentencing structure.”

Noble’s original sentencing judge considered the 13 and a third-year sentence egregious and imposed a sentence of five years of hard labor. But the Orleans Parish District Attorney wasn’t satisfied with this punishment and appealed the sentence.

Ultimately, the district attorney sought and obtained a prison term of close to triple the sentence imposed by the original sentencing judge.

Noble has never been convicted of anything more serious than possession of drugs for personal use. Because of two prior low-level, nonviolent drug offenses, Noble fell within Louisiana’s Habitual Offender Statute, which brings his sentence for his marijuana possession offense to thirteen and one-third years and has deprived him of the opportunity for earlier release on parole.

To be sentenced under unjust laws to a tremendous amount of time is unconscionable. I know because it happened to me. This holiday season, Bernard Nobel’s family will be praying that Governor Jindal will show some compassion and grant Bernard executive clemency so he can be reunited with his family. It is surely the right thing to do.

Anthony Papa is the author of 15 Years to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom and Communications Specialist for Drug Policy Alliance. He can be reached at: anthonypapa123@yahoo.com

 

 

More articles by:

Anthony Papa is the Manager of Media and Artist Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Lockdown.

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
June 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Divest From the Business of Incarceration
W. T. Whitney
Angola in Louisiana: Proving Ground for Racialized Capitalism
Susan Babbitt
Assange and Truth: the Deeper (Harder) Issue
Kenn Orphan
Humanity vs. the Rule of Law
Mateo Pimentel
Why on Earth a Country of Laws and Borders?
Michael T. Klare
The Pentagon’s Provocative Encirclement of China
Howard Lisnoff
The Outrageous Level of Intolerance is Happening Everywhere!
Vijay Prashad
The People of India Stand With Palestine
RS Ahthion
Internment Camps for Child Migrants
Binoy Kampmark
Rocking the G7: Trump Stomps His Allies
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Lawrence Wittner
Getting Ready for Nuclear War
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Women Protest After Being Told by Turkish-Backed Militias to Wear the Hijab
Dean Baker
When Both Men and Women Drop Out of the Labor Force, Why Do Economists Only Ask About Men?
Bruce Lerro
Big Brother Facebook: Drawing Down the Iron Curtain on Yankeedom
June 20, 2018
Henry Giroux
Trump’s War on Children is an act of State Terrorism
Bill Hackwell
Unprecedented Cruelty Against Immigrants and Their Children
Paul Atwood
“What? You Think We’re So Innocent?”
Nicola Perugini
The Palestinian Tipping Point
K.J. Noh
Destiny and Daring: South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Impossible Journey Towards Peace
Gary Leupp
Jeff Sessions and St. Paul’s Clear and Wise Commands
M. G. Piety
On Speaking Small Truths to Power
Dave Lindorff
Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)
George Wuerthner
The Public Value of Forests as Carbon Reserves
CJ Hopkins
Confession of a Putin-Nazi Denialist
David Schultz
Less Than Fundamental:  the Myth of Voting Rights in America
Rohullah Naderi
The West’s Over-Publicized Development Achievements in Afghanistan 
Dan Bacher
California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters
Lori Hanson – Miguel Gomez
The Students of Nicaragua’s April Uprising
Russell Mokhiber
Are Corporations Behind Frivolous Lawsuits Against Corporations?
Michael Welton
Infusing Civil Society With Hope for a Better World
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail