Life In Prison For $20 of Weed

Corruption, Courts, Cover-Up, Crime, Marijuana, Police Brutality

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A homeless man in Louisiana has now become the prime example of the failed drug war. His case demonstrates just how the so-called “War on Drugs” is really just a “War on Us.”

Fate Vincent Winslow, is a 41-year-old homeless African American man, who was down on his luck, homeless and hungry. On September 5th, 2008, Abby Haglage of The Daily Beast, reports that he, along with a man he called “Perdue,” became the targets of a police sting operation.

An undercover cop approached the two, pretending to look for marijuana and a prostitute. Perdue was not arrested, but Winslow was… Why? Because he was desperate to eat and he offered a way to make a quick $5. Haglage reports the exchange as follows:

It was nearly 9:20 p.m., hours after the sun had dipped below the abandoned buildings surrounding them. The lights of downtown Shreveport, Louisiana, flickered in the distance as the plain-clothes man—unbeknownst to them, an undercover cop—arrived.

“What do you need?” Winslow asked. “A girl and some weed,” Officer Jerry Alkire replied.

Perdue remained silent as Winslow and Alkire negotiated the costs. Winslow wanted a $5 delivery fee for the $20 (two dime bags) of pot. Fine. Money settled, he grabbed Perdue’s bike and took off. In the meantime, Alkire and Perdue waited. According to the police report, the two hardly spoke.

A “girl” was the prime reason Alkire was there. Prostitutes were known to frequent these seedy streets, and he was looking to nab one. It was for this reason that an arrest agent, Sgt. Ricky Scroggins, sat listening to the bug hooked up to his ear from an unmarked vehicle nearby.

The details of what happened next remain murky. Winslow returned to the scene, allegedly with marijuana. Money and drugs were exchanged between hands in the dark. When Scroggins and the other officers rushed to the scene after Officer Alkire confirmed the pot, they found $5 on Winslow and $20 on Perdue. Both bills had been marked, but no one could explain how, exactly, they got there.

Police arrested Winslow, drove him to prison, and locked him up. Six months later, a jury found him guilty of distribution of a schedule I substance (marijuana). Three months after that, a judge sentenced him to life imprisonment with hard labor, without the benefit of parole.

The judge who convicted him not only sentenced him to life in prison, but life in prison “with hard labor.”

The judge noted his previous non-violent felonies: burglaries when he was 17 and again at 26, as well as a 2004 cocaine possession charge. As a result of these felonies, mandatory minimum sentencing requirements have now locked this man up for the rest of his life, to do forced slave labor in prison… All over a $5 profit on a leaf. If this isn’t injustice – if it isn’t insanity – then nothing is.

(Article by Jackson Marciana and Reagan Ali)

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