71-year-old Richard DeLisi will be released from the South Bay Correctional Facility in Florida after serving 31 years of a 90-year prison sentence for nonviolent cannabis convictions, The Last Prisoner Project (LPP) reports.
DeLisi’s release comes on the heels of advocacy efforts and supplements to his clemency applications by LPP and pro bono attorneys Chiara Juster, Elizabeth Buchanan, and Michael Minardi. The push for clemency was bolstered this year by the threat of COVID-19, which poses a particularly deadly threat to incarcerated people who — due to inadequate facilities and supplies — are incapable of safe social distancing.
DeLisi began his 90-year sentence on December 5, 1989. During his time in prison, his son, wife, and both parents passed away. He will be released in time for Christmas with his remaining children and grandchildren, which will be the first time in over 30 years that he gets to spend the holidays with family.
“It feels amazingly wonderful to know that I will be home with my family and loved ones very soon. I am grateful to everyone who has been there and helped me along in these long years. 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 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.” — Richard DeLisi, in a statement
Lead Attorney Chiara Juster was also overjoyed by the news. “We participated in decarcerating someone who couldn’t deserve it more,” Juster said. “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.”
DeLisi’s official release date will be issued by the Florida Department of Corrections on November 16, 2020.
LPP is fielding donations from people who wish to help with DeLisi’s reentrance to society.