Life In Prison For Smoking Pot

Via Reason’s Hit & Run, comes news of a 33 year old man currently being held in prison on a life sentence imposed when he was caught smoking marijuana:

In 1990, Tyrone Brown, then 17 years old, took part in a $2 Dallas stickup in which no one was hurt. He got caught, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, and received a sentence of 10 years probation. A few weeks later, he was in court again — because a drug test detected the presence of marijuana in his urine. For still unexplained reasons, his sentencing judge, Keith Dean, threw the book at him. The 17-year-old was resentenced to life in prison, where he remains to this day.

And if you think that makes no sense, consider what the same judge did in another case of a probationer caught smoking marijuana:

While Brown got 10-year suspended sentence for the robbery, [John Alexander] Wood got a 10-year suspended sentence for murdering a prostitute. When Brown tested positive for pot, Judge Dean sent him to prison for life. When Wood repeatedly tested positive for cocaine and got arrested for cocaine possession, Judge Dean didn’t jail him for life. Instead, he let Wood stay a free man and even exempted him from having to take drug tests or meet a probation officer.

In that article, Judge Dean refused to discuss the two cases, saying he might have to rule on them again. But he told the Morning News that he generally tried to evaluate “the potential danger to the community” and “what, in the long run, is going to be in the best interest of the community and the person themselves.”

Yes, because a guy who murders prostitutes isn’t a danger at all.

Pressure is growing on Texas Governor Rick Perry to commute Brown’s sentence. It would seem that justice demands it.

  • Any Mouse

    Maybe instead of commuting the sentence, they can give it to Judge Dean!