Kevin O’Brien Allen, a 39-year-old Louisiana man serving life in prison without parole after being arrested for selling $20 worth of cannabis to a police informant, has a legitimate shot at freedom under a state law passed last year.
The sales in question took place in 2012 and 2013, and in 2014 Allen was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment and hard labor. But the nightmare didn’t stop there: state prosecutors ultimately pushed to enhance the punishment under Louisiana’s habitual offender statutes. Due to multiple past drug-related convictions, Allen’s sentence was increased to life imprisonment without the chance of parole, probation, or sentence suspension.
But under the new law La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.10a — which allows district attorneys to reach post-conviction plea agreements with prisoners — there is now an opportunity for Bossier and Webster Parish District Attorney J. Schuyler Marvin to facilitate Allen’s release. The cannabis prisoner advocacy group Last Prisoner Project recently launched the #FreeKevinAllen campaign, putting public pressure on DA Marvin to consider Allen’s case.
“Kevin Allen’s conviction and sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is a stark example of the injustice that still pervades our criminal justice system,” said Mariah Daly, a legal fellow with LPP.
“Today, the fact that the jury’s verdict in Mr. Allen’s case was not unanimous would require a mistrial under Louisiana law. Additionally, the Supreme Court has held that conviction by a nonunanimous jury is an unconstitutional denial of the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. … Mr. Allen’s egregious sentence is borne from Louisiana’s draconian habitual offender laws due to his prior drug charges, which resulted in sentencing enhancement. Mr. Allen’s case, like many other cannabis offenders’, is an utter travesty of justice.” — Daly, in an emailed statement
LPP is encouraging the public to contact DA Marvin by phone or by email to push for Allen’s release; call and/or email scripts are available through LPP’s #FreeKevinAllen campaign page.
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