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New Law Could Help Free Louisiana Man Serving Life in Prison For Cannabis

Kevin O’Brien Allen was caught promoting $20 value of hashish to an undercover officer in 2012 and 2013. He was initially sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2014, but it surely was later prolonged beneath the state’s “ordinary offender standing” to life in jail with none likelihood of parole.

Nonetheless, a brand new Louisiana legislation may present Allen with a method to be launched. La.C.Cr.P. artwork. 930.10a amends the present Code of Legal Process Article to “relative to submit conviction reduction; to offer for a petitioner’s declare of factual innocence; to offer for exceptions; to offer for proof; to offer for appointment of judges; to offer for motions of testing proof; to offer for grounds for reduction; to offer for burden of proof; to offer for joint motions; to offer for waiver; to offer for time limitations; and to offer for associated issues.”

In an interview with The New Orleans Advocate in December 2021, Allen addressed the injustice he has skilled. “All I did was get arrange from some medication,” mentioned he mentioned. “I nonetheless really feel to today that I’m not speculated to be right here.” Stories state that Allen is a father of two kids, and had a gradual job on the time of his conviction.

The brand new legislation would enable authorized representatives comparable to District Lawyer (DA) J. Schuyler Marvin for Bossier and Webster Parishes, to scale back Allen’s sentence and get him launched. That is made potential by permitting the DA to “collectively enter into any submit conviction plea settlement for the aim of amending the petitioner’s conviction, sentence, or ordinary offender standing.”

The Final Prisoner Challenge (LPP) launched a marketing campaign #FreeKevinAllen on February 15 to convey consciousness to the state of affairs. The group gives pre-written scripts to contact native representatives comparable to District Lawyer J. Schuyler Marvin, and Assistant District Attorneys Alexandra S. Aiello, Andrew Jacobs, John M. Lawrence and Richard R. Ray to petition their help in serving to Allen’s case.

“In 2021, Louisiana handed a legislation decriminalizing medical marijuana so possession of as much as 14 grams is simply punishable by a $100 superb, with out the specter of jail time. Now, a newly-enacted legislation (La.C.Cr.P. artwork. 930.10) gives an avenue for Allen to treatment his protracted post-conviction litigation and as a substitute work with you all within the DA’s workplace to come back to a mutually agreed upon ‘post-conviction plea settlement,’” reads the LPP script. “In mild of the minor nature of Allen’s offenses, marijuana’s rising legality, in addition to time Kevin has already served, I’m respectfully urging DA Schuyler Marvin to make use of his authority to free Kevin Allen and permit him to return residence to his supportive group.” Final Prisoner Challenge just lately held a day of motion on February 20, aka World Day of Social Justice, to generate momentum for individuals who are nonetheless spending time in jail for hashish convictions.

In accordance with, there are roughly 4,100 Louisianans who’re serving life in jail with out parole, and of that quantity, 300 of them are labeled as “ordinary offenders.” Whereas there are an estimated 31 p.c of Black individuals who reside within the southern state, 66 p.c of state prisoners are Black, and 73 p.c of them are at the moment serving life in jail. Louisiana has lengthy been criticized for its excessive incarceration fee, the place information collected by the Jail Coverage Initiative estimates that “it locks up the next share of its individuals than any democracy on earth.”

Louisiana Senate candidate Gary Chambers Jr. additionally introduced up the state’s outdated hashish legal guidelines in his latest January marketing campaign video. “Black persons are 4 instances extra prone to be arrested for marijuana legal guidelines than white individuals,” he mentioned whereas smoking a joint. “States waste $3.7 billion implementing marijuana legal guidelines yearly. Most people police are arresting aren’t sellers, however moderately individuals with small quantities of pot, similar to me.”