69-year-old Michael Thompson, who in 1994 was sentenced to 40-60 years in prison for nonviolent cannabis crimes, will receive a public hearing from the Michigan Parole Board on November 17.
His parole efforts are supported by the state attorney general, local prosecutors, politicians, and over 125,000 people who signed a petition calling for his release.
Thompson, who has already served 25 years of his sentence, was originally arrested and jailed for the sale of three pounds of cannabis. When police raided his home, however, they found firearms, which resulted in a significantly lengthier prison sentence.
During his incarceration, Thompson’s mother, father, and only son have passed away. His mother’s last wish was that he would not die in prison. Thompson, who has diabetes, was hospitalized in August with a COVID-19 diagnosis.
“Given the health risks Michael is facing as a 69-year-old with pre-existing conditions recovering from COVID-19, we hope the parole board and the Governor’s office will act as expeditiously as possible to release Michael. However, we are heartened that the process is moving forward with the scheduling of a public hearing, the last procedural hurdle before the Governor can grant clemency.” — Sarah Gersten, Executive Director & General Counsel for the Last Prisoner Project
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has stated she supports cannabis reforms and recently signed into law a bill to automatically expunge cannabis convictions that would no longer be considered illegal under the state’s cannabis legalization policies.