Disabled Veteran, 75, Gets Life Sentence For Marijuana

| by Michael Allen
Prison cellPrison cell

Lee Carroll Brooker is serving a life sentence for growing three dozen marijuana plants in Dothan, Alabama, in July 2011. The 75-year-old disabled veteran said that he grew them for medical use because of his many ailments, which the prosecutor didn't disagree with.

The New York Times reported April 19 that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Brooker's case April 18.

Alabama has a mandatory sentence of life without parole for small amounts of marijuana possession for those with specific felony convictions.

In Brooker's case, he had previously been convicted in Florida for a few armed robberies 20 years ago.

Brooker served ten years in jail for those crimes, but the convictions came back to haunt him after he was convicted for marijuana in Alabama.

Alabama is not the only state with this type of law; Mississippi also hands out life sentences for possession of 30 grams of marijuana under certain conditions.

Two other states with similar laws are South Dakota and Louisiana.

Alabama's limit is 2.2 pounds; Brooker had plants that tipped the scales at 2.8 pounds, which included the unusable parts (vines and stalks).

The Alabama judge who sentenced Brooker said, "[If I] could sentence you to a term that is less than life without parole, I would," reported The New York Times.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore -- who is a Conservative Christian -- described Brooker's sentence as "excessive and unjustified" in 2015 and said that it showed the "grave flaws" in Alabama's sentencing laws.

The only discretion was in the hands of the prosecutor who could have chosen a different charge to avoid the life sentence, but did not.

Medical marijuana is allowed in 23 states and in the District of Columbia. Recreational marijuana is allowed in four states and D.C., but the U.S. Supreme Court would not hear Brooker's legal assertion that his life sentence violated the Eighth Amendment, which bans cruel and unusual punishments.

Brooker will live out the rest of his life in jail, which will be funded by Alabama taxpayers.

Sources: The New York Times (2) / Photo credit: DOliphant/Flickr

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