Allowing a man to continue to serve a decades-long prison term for a marijuana conviction is unjust. Providing no swift relief from that sentence, especially during a global pandemic that has taken the lives of over 160,000 Americans, is inhumane.
Yet that's what's happening to one of Attorney Kimberly Corral's clients, Mr. Thompson, who, in 1996, was sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison for selling marijuana to an informant in 1994. He was also sentenced to 40 to 60 years for weapons offenses stemming from that same incident. And not only is Mr. Thompson incarcerated, but he has also recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Mr. Thompson has diabetes, which puts him at an increased risk of suffering severe complications from the novel coronavirus. Leaving him in prison is almost akin to imposing a death sentence.
Attorney Corral is working hard to rectify this injustice, especially since marijuana was legalized in Michigan in 2018 – which is when Mr. Thompson first sought post-conviction relief. In January of 2019, she filed an application to have Mr. Thompson's sentence commuted. And, in March, when the pandemic started spreading across the U.S., she requested an expedited review of that request. But nothing has come of it yet.
Typically, when an inmate requests a commuted sentence, the parole board makes a recommendation to the governor, who has the final say as to whether or not it's approved. Generally, the parole board has 60 days to complete its assessment and send a recommendation. Obviously, in Mr. Thompson's case, that review period has passed. And still, no movement has been made on his request. A commuted sentence is his last legal option for early release.
Mr. Thompson shouldn't have even been imprisoned for so long to begin with. Attorney Joseph Patituce, managing partner at Patituce & Associates, told CNN that Mr. Thompson’s sentence is “reserved for the worst of the worst.” A decades-long prison term is not justified for a marijuana charge.
Attorney Corral told Yahoo News that a reasonable person would see what's going on in Mr. Thompson's case and say something needs to be done to correct this injustice.
Our team at Patituce & Associates isn't the only one speaking out against what's happening to Mr. Thompson. His case has garnered national attention, and celebrities, as well as others in the legal field, including Michigan's Attorney General, have advocated for his early release. Yahoo News noted that Kim Kardashian wrote a letter calling Mr. Thompson's continued incarceration "extremely unfair." And former television host Montel Williams said it was "time to fix this."
In his application for a commuted sentence, Mr. Thompson says that the term of imprisonment he received was part of a movement focused on doling out enhanced penalties for repeat offenders. At the time of the 1994 incident, he had previous felony drug crimes convictions. Mr. Thompson also stated in his application that if he were released, he would get involved in his community by helping troubled youths.
At Patituce & Associates, our Cleveland team does not tolerate injustices like those our client is suffering. That is why we work diligently to correct such wrongs. If you or a loved one needs help seeking post-conviction relief, call us at (440) 471-7784 or contact us online today.