A recent story in the Times Picayune about a St. Tammany Parish criminal case in which the defendant received a life sentence for attempted possession with the intent to distribute marijuana drew considerable public comment on the newspaper’s website. I am a criminal defense attorney, and a pretty liberal guy in general. So when I say to myself (and on occasion publicly) that a life sentence for attempted possession with the intent to distribute marijuana is ridiculously excessive (in this case, approximately two pounds of marijuana), you might not be surprised. But this time, I seem to be joined by a chorus voices from the public – the relatively conservative South Louisiana public, no less – who agree.
Granted, the moral reprehensibility of locking someone up for life is less important to some of the commenters than objections centered around the cost of incarcerating someone for a lifetime, but I have to say, from a practical standpoint, cost is also an overwhelmingly compelling argument.
I include here a representative sample of unedited comments. A few preliminary notes about the case to be fair – (1) the defendant Cornell Hood II had been twice previously convicted of felony marijuana possession and (2) there was evidence introduced at trial to suggest that Mr. Hood may have been selling the marijuana he possessed. But nevertheless, let my position be clear: there is no set of circumstances regarding the offense characteristics or a defendant’s prior record that should combine to produce a life sentence where marijuana is the only drug involved – even if there is an allegation of sale or distribution – because it is wrong, both morally and financially. Looks like there is plenty of sympathy for this position.
I’d like to know what, if anything, this guy ever did that harmed the general public. And please–save the radical answers that “our children should be protected from drug dealers”. This guy was a simple Pot Head. Not a college kid in this country who doesn’t smoke pot. Most people 60yr or younger have bought pot before. Must be tuff to be a DA in STP. First, you must get up each morning and look in the mirror. Gotta be tuff.
Are you kidding me? Life in prison for weed. It grows from the Earth.
This is unconscionable. It shouldn’t be illegal to smoke marijuana in the first place, but I’ll save the same tired old arguments for eliminating outdated and uninformed laws. But then, if it weren’t illegal to smoke it, it shouldn’t be illegal to provide a harmless (or at least a lot less harmful than the fully-legal drug of alcohol) service to those who have the demand for it. I didn’t read anything about other drugs being sold too.
Sure he could have been a violent offender, but he only had offenses dealing with sale of marijuana and no weapons were found in his house. So picture this entirely plausible scenario: what if this man had a student loan application because he has to support his disabled mother and young son, and maybe he was trying to go to ITT Tech or trade school to increase his income, improve his life, and get to the point where he didn’t feel the need to sell high-margin marijuana to make ends meet? I personally know good, honest people in a very similar situation. And now this family is ruined because of an oppressive government and an overzealous and close-minded backwater DA? Pathetic, insane, unfathomable… there really are no words to express my utter disgust. Nick Noriea Jr. and Raymond S. Childress should be the ones serving time over this matter.
wow, just flippin wow. as a disclaimer I don’t smoke pot or do any drugs, but if Medicinal Marijuana clubs were allowed here I would own one! to send some schlub to prison for life for pot is absurd! if he was caught the 42nd time and each time he had 8000 kilos it would still be too much. The average in state prisoner cost is 50K a year… The guy is 35 now…. life in prison can mean 30 to 40 or 50 years if some other knucklehead does not kill him. That 50K does not include medical or dental or psychiatric medical care if he needs it, just the basic cost.do the math, this guy will now be another dependent of the taxpayers.
There are so many laws dictating every aspect of our lives that we are all lawbreakers at one point. That breeds contempt for the law. It’s one thing to have laws to protect people from others but laws that protect us from ourselves are absurb as shown by most of the comments to this story. I suggest some one keep an eye on the Barney Fife ADA and use the citizens arrest on him for speeding, right turn on red without coming to a complete stop, expired brake tag, expired drivers licsence, not wearing his seat belt, texting while driving, using his officialdum for his advantage (using a blue light in traffic to get to a soccer game he’s late for) and maybe a few more similar infractions. After three or four of these worthless convictions, shouldn’t he be put in jail for life?
The outrage here is two fold: First, selling pot or smoking pot is simply Not a violent crime. Second, people are tired of witnessing a local Judical system that shells out serious sentencing (Life) for such non-violent offenders simply because these Coward Judges & DA’s like to flex their power on the poor and dem witted while there own commet more serious CRIMES and walk away scott free. So what he was “going to sell it” to OTHER pot smokers. Its time for the voters to take a stand on this complete mis-use of our Judical system. Our taxes are paying elected officals who are the worse ciminals around. Adding insult is witnessing them but someone behind bars for 35yrs at a cost of 1.2 million. Next time I get passed on the highway by a marked police unit doing 95mph on his way home, or read about Strain not paying his correct property tax, or Mayors, Senators, City Members pulled over on DWI, or stealing Donated Funds, I’m going to remember your Blog Post here and think also about this poor man doing 35yrs. Yeah, that’s Justice alright. End Of Story.
In fairness to the other side, there were some comments from people who felt it was appropriate. But, the vast majority of comments were along the lines of the above. Interesting stuff… and probably not the end of the story.