Michael Thompson was behind bars for decades after a marijuana sale. Now he's free

Michael Thompson spent nearly 25 years behind bars for a sentence stemming from a marijuana sale. A 4 a.m. di giovedì, he finally walked out of prison to greet his family and the supporters who spent decades fiercely advocating for his release.

I was lost, dopo 25 anni,” he told CNN in an interview Friday. “I was just looking around because I wanted to see whose faces stand out and I’d remember.
Thousands have been pushing for Thompson’s release for yearsincluding advocacy groups, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, as well as the prosecutor and Michigan’s attorney general, who in August called the sentencingunduly harsh.That same month, Thompson tested positive for coronavirus.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer annunciato in December that she had granted clemency to Thompson and three other people, who all were serving time in prison for nonviolent offenses.
    We still have a lot of work to do, but today is a step in the right direction,” Whitmer had said.
    Thompson’s family is focused on is celebrating his return. They organized a party welcoming him home, ate together, took photographs, and introduced Thompson to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
    I just like to close my eyes and keep receiving that love,” Thompson ha detto. “Because I haven’t felt this kind of love in a long time.
    When his daughter, Rashawnda Littles, spoke to CNN on Friday morning, she was shoe shopping for her father.
    Words can’t explain how I feel right now,” lei disse. “I’m feeling relieved, happy and grateful for everyone who has participated in seeing my dad come home.
    Thompson’s younger daughter, Princess, was just 3 years old when her father was incarcerated, LIttles said.
    She didn’t get to enjoy what I enjoyed growing up with my father,” Littles said. “I want her to experience, I want her to be able to know it’s OK, it’s OK now, it’s over.
    Michael Thompson with his two daughters, Rashawnda Littles, sinistra, and Princess Thompson.

    The injustices ‘were ongoing

    Thompson, 69, was convicted after a 1994 marijuana salehe sold about three pounds to a police informantthat spurred a search in his home, where officials found weapons. Those weapons included antiques and most were inside a locked gun safe, according to a clemency petition Thompson’s attorneys previously provided to CNN.
    But due to prior drug convictions, he was sentenced in 1996 to up to 15 years for the drug charges and a stunning 42 per 60 years for firearm possession charges.
    My story is the very story that should never happen within the penal system, nowhere in America,” Thompson ha detto.
    Thompson’s earliest possible release date would have been 2038.
    Here’s a man, he killed nobody,” Egli ha detto. “Just think about it, you put a guy in prison for 25 years over three pounds of marijuana.
    Kimberly Corral, Thompson’s attorney, said his case is evidence that the criminal justice systemisn’t worthy of our trust.
    “Nel 25 anni, the criminal justice system has not offered a way to correct itself,” Corral said. “It’s not just an injustice that it happened, it’s an injustice every day that our system allowed it to go on in a case that’s so obviously unfairly sentenced.
    Especially during a pandemic, lei disse.
    “Michael … was washing his clothes in his toilet, he was hospitalized when he contracted Covidhe was often quarantined for months on end because someone else would contract Covid, even though he’d already had it, and then they’d use that quarantine as a basis to deny his access to phones,” Corral said. “The injustices over the time while we were waiting were ongoing.
    Michael Thompson with his grandson during a party his family threw to welcome him home.

    What comes next

    Thompson will now be on supervised release at home in Flint, Michigan, his attorney said.
    That means he will be subject to interviews with his parole officer and is required to keep the officer updated on information like his location and work. He needs permission to leave the state and could face going back to prison if he violates conditions of his parole.
    While his attorneys advocated he receive all his freedoms back, Corral says she’s hopeful the cooperation by the different parts of the criminal justice system in Thompson’s case will opena door for a lot more cooperative work in the future, because there are many, many more nonviolent offenders who remain in egregious sentencing schemes that are in need of release.
    As for Thompson, he says he’s still recovering from the aftermath of his bout with coronavirus.
    He says he wants to be a voice for the incarcerated people he was with, and be an advocate for prison reformespecially regarding nonviolent cases like his that result in decades of punishment.
      Because one minute you hear about it, and then the next week, you don’t hear about it. Then six months later, you hear about it and then next month you don’t hear about it no more,” Egli ha detto.
      I hope one day somebody’s going to say enough is enough and really do something.

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