A 53-year-old man who was sentenced to life in prison on a $20 marijuana charge is finally free.
Fate Winslow walked out of Angola state prison in Louisiana on Wednesday, more than 12 years after he was convicted of selling a two dime bags to an undercover cop in Shreveport. As reported by CBS News, Winslow reunited with his family upon his release and expressed excitement for his new chapter in life.
“I’m full of joy,” Winslow told the outlet. “I’m so happy, man. I got to be with my family last night once I was released, and I can’t explain it. I’m so happy.”
Winslow was living homeless in Shreveport in 2008 when an undercover officer approached him and asked if he could get him “a girl” and two bags of weed worth $10 each. Though Winslow never procured “a girl,” he reportedly borrowed a bike so he could travel to get the marijuana from a dealer. He was arrested shortly after he returned with the weed.
Rolling Stone reports the dealer, who was white, was never “taken in – even though officers found the marked $20 bill on him.” Winslow, on the other hand, had three previous convictions at the time of his arrest, all of which were for non-violent crimes, such as car burglary and drug possession. Because of his record, Winslow was hit with a mandatory life sentence as a repeat offender.
Attorneys with the Innocence Project New Orleans appealed Winslow’s sentence, arguing his original counsel provided ineffective assistance. He was ultimately re-sentenced to time served.
“I wish Fate was our final client, but that, unfortunately, is far from the truth,” his attorney, Jee Park, told WSGW. “There’s a reason why Louisiana is the incarceration capital of the world. We have a lot of work to do.”
A GoFundMe campaign has since been set up to help Winslow rebuild his life. At the time of publication, the campaign had received more than 400 donations totaling $17,658.