A veteran serving a life sentence for selling less than 30 dollars of marijuana will soon be released from prison, his lawyer told CNN.
Derek Harris, who was arrested in 2008 in Louisiana for having sold to a police officer 0.69 grams of marijuana, has recently been sentenced to life in prison. He has already served nine years in prison.
Initially, Harris was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison, according to the supreme Court of Louisiana. He was again convicted in 2012 to life in prison under the law on the offenders usual, which allows judges to impose penalties more strict to a person who has already been charged.
The prosecutors of the parish of Vermilion have agreed to release Harris from prison after the supreme Court of Louisiana has granted him a new hearing last month, said his lawyer Cormac Boyle.
The supreme Court of Louisiana agreed with the argument of Harris, saying that he had “ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing when reviewing post-conviction.” The case was referred to the court of first instance for a brief of evidence.
The district attorney’s office has agreed that Harris “had received ineffective assistance during the sentencing and was entitled to a lighter penalty,” said Boyle in a press release.
He also noted that Harris had a substance abuse problem that had begun on his return from Desert Storm, an operation the american military during the Gulf war, launched in response to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990.
“His prior offenses were non-violent and related to his addiction and not treated with drugs,” wrote the judge of the supreme Court of Louisiana, John Weimer.
Five of the judges are white and male have voted to confirm her conviction, while the only woman justice black provided the sole vote dissenting.