A Louisiana man sentenced to life in prison for selling $20 worth of cannabis has been freed after a successful appeal determined he had not received effective assistance of counsel during his original trial, 4WWL reports.
Fate Winslow, 53, served 12 years in Angola State Prison after his 2008 arrest during an undercover sting. According to the report, Winslow, who is Black, was homeless on the streets of Shreveport when a plainclothes officer asked him where he could buy some cannabis. Winslow borrowed a bicycle and returned with two small bags of cannabis, and the officer rewarded him with $5 for food. Police later arrested Winslow for sales and his previous criminal record – including two unarmed burglaries and cocaine possession – led to a life sentence under the state’s habitual offender statute.
According to a 2017 Rolling Stone report, police did not arrest the white dealer despite finding the marked $20 bill on his person during the investigation.
Winslow was represented by Innocence Project New Orleans Director Jee Park. She told 4WWL that, “There are hundreds of individuals serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes,” in the state.
“He received an obscenely excessive sentence given his life circumstances and crime, and today, we are correcting that unconstitutional, inhumane sentence.” – Park to 4WWL
Winslow described his release as “a day of redemption.”
“I get my freedom back, I get my life back,” Winslow told Yahoo News. “There are no words that can really explain my feelings right now.”
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