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Man, 71, who is the longest-serving inmate for marijuana crimes, will finally be released

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Man, 71, who is the longest-serving inmate for marijuana crimes, will spend his first Christmas out of prison since 1988 following early release from a 90-year sentence – and he’ll finally get to meet his five grandkids

  • Richard DeLisi, 71, is expected to released in December 2020 from the South Bay Correctional Facility, 18 months before his scheduled to be released 
  • DeLisi is currently serving a 90-year sentence in prison for marijuana trafficking and has been incarcerated since December 5, 1989 
  • In 1988, he and his brother – Ted DeLisi – were caught in a reverse-sting operation for trafficking marijuana into Florida
  • Both were charged for trafficking and sentenced to a total of 98 years
  • Ted was released from prison in 2013
  • DeLisi is looking forward to being reunited with his two living children and five grandchildren 

By Matthew Wright For Dailymail.com

Published: | Updated:

Richard DeLisi, 71, is expected to released in December 2020 from the South Bay Correctional Facility, 18 months before his scheduled to be released

America’s longest serving nonviolent cannabis prisoner will be released from a Florida prison just in time for the holidays, where he will hopefully get to meet his five grandchildren for the first time. 

Richard DeLisi, 71, is expected to released in December 2020 from the South Bay Correctional Facility (SBCF), 18 months before he was scheduled to be released in August 2022. 

The early release was part of a joint effort from the Last Prisoner Project and pro bono attorneys Chaira Juster, Elizabeth Buchanan and Michael Minardi, the nonprofit shared in a Monday statement.

DeLisi is currently serving a 90-year sentence in prison for marijuana trafficking and has been incarcerated since December 5, 1989, when he was 40. 

In 1988, he and his brother – Ted DeLisi – were caught in a reverse-sting operation for trafficking marijuana into Florida. Both were charged for trafficking and sentenced to a total of 98 years. Ted was released from prison in 2013.

DeLisi is currently serving a 90-year sentence in prison for marijuana trafficking and has been incarcerated since December 5, 1989

In 1988, he and his brother – Ted DeLisi – were caught in a reverse-sting operation for trafficking marijuana into Florida. Both were charged for trafficking and sentenced to a total of 98 years. Ted was released from prison in 2013

Delisi is looking forward to the release, thrilled to be reunited with his two living children and excited to meet his five grandchildren for the first time. His wife, one his children and both of his parents are dead.

 ‘It feels amazingly wonderful to know that I will be home with my family and loved ones very soon,’ DeLisi said to his legal team. I am grateful to everyone who has been there and helped me along in these long years. 

DeLisi’s wife, parents and one of his children died while he was incarcerated 

‘If I could go back to 1988 I would tell my former self to put more value in the time I spend with my family. I have learned that money is something that comes and goes but family is forever. I will take that lesson home with me and I will make the most of every moment I have left on this earth with my wonderful family. 

‘I am so excited to hug my children and grandchildren. I have missed so many important moments with them and I can’t wait to get out there and create precious memories with everyone. I am so thrilled that this dark chapter of my life is finally over.’

DeLisi’s daughter, Ashley, hasn’t seen her father for her birthday since she was three years old. She is looking forward to being reunited with him after 32 years. 

‘I just want to hug my dad outside of prison,’ she said, later adding, ‘It is a sad truth that children of those who are incarcerated are also given a sentence.’

An official release date will be issued to DeLisi and his legal team on November 16 by the Florida Department of Corrections. 

Delisi is looking forward to the release, thrilled to be reunited with his two living children and excited to meet his five grandchildren for the first time

Chiara Juster, lead attorney for DeLisi, is ecstatic about the news. She did express disgust, however, that it took three decades to secure the father’s freedom. 

Attorneys for DeLisi worried about the possibility of him getting COVID-19

 ‘We participated in decarcerating someone who couldn’t deserve it more. The fact that dear Richard is the longest serving non-violent cannabis offender currently incarcerated in our country is truly a sick indictment of our nation,’ said Juster.

She later added: ‘Ashley and her brother Rick’s ninety-year-sentence is also ending. They will finally feel free when Ashley’s dreams of hugging her dad in the free world come to fruition.’

Lawyers have highlighted the COVID-19 pandemic as a huge part of the reasoning they are seeking DeLisi’s release, citing his old age and ‘several underlying chronic conditions.’ 

The Last Prisoner Project shared in June release that SBCF has become a ‘hotspot’ for the virus, with 421 people testing positive with the virus while one inmate has already died, according to data from the Florida DOC. 85 staff members have tested positive with the virus.

In Florida, 184 inmates have died from coronavirus.  

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