Timothy Tyler may spend the rest of his life in prison for intent to distribute five grams of the hallucinogenic drug LSD. He has been behind bars for two decades.
He was arrested when he was 23 years old after mailing the drug to a friend of his father’s. The friend turned out to be a government informant and Tyler and his dad were both arrested. He agreed to plead guilty in order to protect his dad from a harsh sentence.
He claims his public defender never warned him of the mandatory minimum sentencing rules the judge had to follow.
Tyler had been arrested twice before on drug related charges. Because of that the judge sentenced him to two life sentences.
As the Inquisitr pointed out in a recent story, that is essentially the same sentence handed down to Ariel Castro, a man who imprisoned and continually raped three women for ten years. Castro was sentenced to life in prison, plus 1,000 years and no possibility of parole according to USA Today.
"I did not really realize I was getting life until the date of sentencing. When my attorney told me, I told him that I wanted to take back my guilty plea ... they denied me,” Tyler told CNN.
For years he has assumed he would spend the rest of his life in prison.
Last week, though, Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced changes to the Obama administration’s clemency criteria. The changes are seen as an attempt, by the administration, to ease overcrowding in federal prisons.
"We are launching this clemency initiative in order to quickly and effectively identify appropriate candidates, candidates who have a clean prison record, do not present a threat to public safety, and were sentenced under out-of-date laws that have since been changed, and are no longer seen as appropriate,” Cole said in a recent news conference.
The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 is one of those “out-of-date-laws.” Originally intended to target drug kingpins, many argue the law has flooded the federal prison system with thousands of low-level, non-violent criminals like Tyler.
The revision in the clemency rules is part of an ongoing effort by Attorney General Eric Holder that he calls “Smart on Crime.”
The push could mean good news for Tyler who told CNN he has spent the last twenty years feeling as though he had died.