After serving 31 years of his 90-year prison sentence for selling marijuana, Richard DeLisi has finally been released.
During his time behind bars in South Florida, his wife passed away, along with his 23-year-old son and both his parents.
His daughter also suffered a paralyzing stroke after a car accident.
DeLisi was aged 40 when he was sentenced to 90 years in jail for marijuana trafficking in 1989. The typical sentence was only 12 to 17 years, but he believes the judge mistakenly thought that he had connections to organized the crime as he was an Italian from New York, according to CBS.
Now 71, DeLisi walked out of prison unresentful and grateful as he embraced his tearful family.
The grandfather said he’s just eager to restore the lost time. He was believed to be the longest-serving nonviolent cannabis prisoner, The Last Prisoner Project stated.
DeLisi finally met his 1-year-old and 11-year-old granddaughters for the first time.
In a phone interview with The Associated Press, he said: “I’m a blessed human being, a survivor. Prison changed me. I never really knew who God was and now I know and it changed the way I talk to people and treat people.”
The 71-year-old also shared how he came a mentor to younger prisoners, adding: “For me, being there so long, I was able to take gang members from gangs to gentlemen.”
DeLisi’s 43-year-old son, Rick, also shared how his father’s incarceration impacted their family.
He told the Associated Press: “It’s just kind of like torment on your soul for 31 years.
“I was kind of robbed of my whole life so I just appreciate that I can witness it, but on the other hand I feel like, isn’t somebody responsible? Is there somebody that can answer to this?”
DeLisi’s attorney, Chiara Juster, said: “I can personally tell you, as a former prosecutor for Miami-Dade County, I never saw anything like this.
“It’s truly unjust.”
But the grandfather chooses not to dwell on the time lost. He’s now using his energy to fight for the release of other inmates through his FreeDeLisi.com organization.
“The system needs to change and I’m going to try my best to be an activist,” he expressed.
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