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Georgia has begun releasing marijuana and other drug offenders who were sentenced under the state’s harsh sentencing laws. The new law allows those facing life sentences for illicit sales to be considered for parole. Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to those facing sentences just for possession.
Following adoption of a misguided “get tough on crime” campaign in the 90’s, many Georgians found themselves in horrifically long prison terms for nonviolent offenses, including the sale of marijuana. Journalists with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that black people were an astonishing 26 times more likely to receive life sentences than were whites under these laws.
For many, the war on marijuana seems to be winding down. But for those who languish in prison under long sentences, the war could mean a life sentence.
The first person to benefit from the new law was Darion Barker, sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for sale of marijuana and other drugs. Officials released him in July after serving 20 years.
But while the new law is a major step forward, there is more to do. Others just like Darion remain behind bars, many for lesser charges, including marijuana possession. If you are a Georgia resident, please ask your representative and senator to include those subject to long prison sentences for possession to be eligible for parole like Darion.
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