Life Without Parole for $20 of Marijuana

In Louisiana, a homeless man named Fate Vincent Winslow helped sell $20 of weed and got life in prison with no chance for parole.

He was paid $5 to drop it off but did not know he was selling it to an undercover cop working on a prostitution operation in Shreveport. When asked why he agreed to deliver the weed, he said he wanted to use the money to buy food.

He was arrested in 2008 and is still behind bars. It wasn’t that single sale that got him with such a harsh sentence though. He had 3 prior felony convictions (none for violent crimes). 24 years earlier he was convicted for simple burglary, another simple burglary conviction 15 years before, and possession of cocaine in 2004.

Under Louisiana’s habitual offender law, prosecutors pushed for the maximum punishment. In the end, Fate Winslow was served a life sentence. When he appealed, judges did not believe he deserved leniency, “The defendant has failed to rebut the presumption by showing that he is exceptional,” they wrote in 2010. “The fact that his prior offenses were nonviolent is, by itself, insufficient.”

He would not have faced a life sentence were it not for the state’s three-strikes, law for repeat offenders. He remains behind bars and will die in the world’s prison capital for selling $20 worth of weed. Do you believe this justice?

Fate Vincent Winslow