75-Year-Old Disabled Veteran Sentenced To Life In Prison For Growing Weed For Personal Medicinal Use
We have a real problem in this grand nation with criminalizing the growing and selling of plants. The amount of money that is wasted on attempting to prevent people from getting their hands on illegal plants is insane. Then there is the costs to imprison people for these non-violent offenses. A staggering $1 trillion of your tax dollars have been fruitlessly pouring into drug war over the past four decades. Not to mention how many lives are ruined from people going to jail for having a plant in their possession. Even though medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, if you live across an imaginary border, you could be sentenced to a life in prison for having plants. That was the harsh case for Lee Carroll Brooker.
Back in July of 2011, police raided the home of his son, Darren Lee Brooker, in Dothan, Alabama. Police seized 42 plants with a “street value” of $92,000, and described the marijuana that was planted in the backyard as a “growing operation.” Brooker, a 75-year-old disabled veteran, claims that he used the marijuana for his own medicinal maladies.
Darren was sentenced to five years’ probation, with a suspended five-year prison sentence that will be dismissed if he doesn’t violate any of th terms. However, Lee Brooker was convicted of drug trafficking. You would surmise that he would serve a maximum of five years, which is still absurd, but most likely his lawyer could plea bargain it down to maybe a year in prison. You would be wrong. Brooker was handed a life sentence with no possibility of release.
Lee had four previous felony convictions from decades ago, including being convicted of armed robberies in Florida 20 years earlier, for which he served 10 years. Alabama state law maintains that anyone with prior felonies gets an automatic life sentence for possessing more than 1 kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of marijuana, regardless of intent to sell.
The marijuana plants that were collected at his son’s house weighed 2.8 pounds. That bloated weight included everything, the worthless stalks, roots, and any dirt that clung to the plant.
From the New York Times:
At his sentencing, the trial judge told Mr. Brooker that if he “could sentence you to a term that is less than life without parole, I would.” Last year, Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, called Mr. Brooker’s sentence “excessive and unjustified,” and said it revealed “grave flaws” in the state’s sentencing laws, but the court still upheld the punishment.
Brooker is now appealing his sentence on the grounds that it violates his Eighth Amendment rights, and is cruel and unusual punishment. Life without parole is the second most severe punishment after the death penalty, and should never, in any circumstance, be the punishment for someone growing weed. On Friday, the Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to hear Brooker’s case or not.
This is just one case of thousands, and a sick reminder that the drug laws in this county need to change.