Simply being arrested for marijuana possession is bad enough, and can have life-long consequences. But imagine spendingÂ 13 years in prison for a small personal amount of a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol. That’s what Bernard Noble, a Louisiana man with a history of minor non-violent drug possession offenses, has been subjected to sinceÂ beingÂ convicted in 2010. Now, thanks to the tireless work of his family, his defense attorney, advocates around the country, he will free in 2018.
Huffington Post reports:
Bernard Noble, a 50-year-old father of seven, has spent the last six years in prison in Louisiana serving out a sentence of 13 and a half years for possession of what was the equivalent of two jointsâ worth of marijuana.
Nobleâs case was a rallying cry for those seeking reform of harsh sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders. And Monday, after years of litigation, multipleÂ articles on his case (including from The Huffington Post), documentaries, podcasts, rallies and petitions,Â Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro agreed to resentence Noble to eight years, Nobleâs attorney Jee Park announced in a statement. That means he could be free in less than two more years given the time heâs already served behind bars.
âTo me, eight years is still too long for Bernard and his family,â Park said, âbut the prospect of going home and being reunited with his children in less than 2 years brought relief to Bernard.â
Park said sheâs hopeful that Noble, who she described as a âcaring and responsible father, successful entrepreneur, [with] no violence in his pastâ might be paroled and released even sooner. Nobleâs previous sentence did not include the possibility of parole.
Noble was caught with the equivalent of two jointsâ worth of marijuana in 2010.Â At first, Noble was sentenced to five years in prison. But the Orleans Parish District Attorneyâs office appealed that ruling and took the case all the way to the state Supreme Court.
Noble had seven prior convictions on his record, stretching back to 1989. All were convictions for possession of small amounts of drugs; two were for cocaine and the rest were for marijuana. All were nonviolent, and four were misdemeanors and three were felonies. The state used two of the felony charges in their branding of Noble as a âhabitual offenderâ under Louisiana law.Â That allowed them to apply the maximum possible sentence against Noble, without a chance of parole.
Read HuffPostâs full interview with Noble from 2015Â here.
MPP would like to congratulate Mr. Noble on this victory and thank all the people whose efforts are helping bring him home.