71 Year-Old Man Released After Serving 31 Years of Prison for Non-Violent Marijuana Charges

10 December 2020
10 December 2020
2 min read
71 Year-Old Man Released After Serving 31 Years of Prison for Non-Violent Marijuana Charges

Richard DeLisi, a 71-year-old man from Florida was released from the South Bay Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility in Palm Beach County this Tuesday, after serving 31 years behind the bars for cannabis-related offenses

In an interview after his release, when the man was asked what were his future plants he replied that he would go celebrate at a local restaurant, the Rustic Inn, where he would eat some crabs in the afternoon. Fancy munchies, huh. 

The reason why DeLisi was sentenced to 90 years of prison was due to racketeering, cannabis trafficking, and conspiracy, when in 1988, Richard and his older brother Ted were caught in a reverse-sting operation, which is when police officers show up undercover at a drug deal, while they were trafficking weed from Colombia into Florida. 


DeLisi before and after his release.

Richard DeLisi before and after his release from prison for non-violent related charges.


To his luck, with the help of a joint effort from the Last Prisoner Project and pro bono attorneys (which provide free legal services) Juster, Michael Minardi and Elizabeth Buchanan, Richard DeLisi achieved to be released almost 60 years before the original release date. 

The Last Prisoner Project is a nonprofit organization that consists of attorneys, activists, and policy experts who seek to help release prisoners who have been imprisoned for nonviolent, weed-related charges

However, according to the Florida Department of Corrections, the release of DeLisi wasn't related to third parties, but because they reviewed his record and realized that he hadn't received credit for the time served, leading to a sooner release. 

"It feels amazingly wonderful to know that I will be home with my family and loved ones very soon," said Richard to his legal team last month when the new release date was announced.

Before their release, both Richard and Ted DeLisi were described as the two longest-serving inmates for nonviolent marijuana crimes in the nation.

Yet his brother Ted had been released from said prison in the year 2013 after he managed to successfully appeal his conspiracy conviction. At that time, however, Richard's appeal had still been rejected.

We should point out that, a 90-year incarceration for such charges, sentenced by Judge Dennis Maloney, is considered to be far beyond the recommendations in the judicial guidelines.

“It was so unjust what they did to me. I just hope that I can help other people that are in the same situation.” said Richard. 

It's sad to find out that so much time was wasted of a person's life without no fair justifications for that matter, not that they would be of any use at this point, since he has already lost that time. 

However, it is no surprise to find that DeLisi's reaction was never a violent one, not before or after he had been released. In fact, the man just seems to be generally happy to be able to spend time with his family again and spend the holidays together after 31 years.

Now DeLisi will finally meet the five of his grandchildren for the first time and reunite with his two children.