The country’s jails are jam-packed with people serving out sentences for drug-related offenses. Some are short sentences; others extend to life in prison.
The following are some of the drug offenders with extraordinarily long prison terms:
- Tyrone L. Taylor – Taylor was sentenced to prison for life in January 2000 for selling $20 worth of crack cocaine. His conviction was based on a violation of the law against delivery of cocaine. Taylor was handed a lifetime jail order under the three-strikes law, which gives a harsh penalty to a person for violating drug laws three times.
- Fate Vincent Winslow – Winslow was found guilty in 2008 of selling $20 worth of marijuana to a police officer who posed as a buyer. Winslow had received three non-violent felonies in the 25 years prior, including a drug possession charge in 2004. When found guilty of distribution of a Schedule 1 substance in 2008, he was locked up for life. His penalty carries no possibility of parole.
- Euka Wadlington – Wadlington had two state convictions for drug violations before his conviction in February 1999 on three counts of drug conspiracy, which is a non-violent offense. At the time of his arrest, the police did not find any drugs, guns, or money in his possession, but because of the three-strikes law, Wadlington was sent to prison for life.
- Daniel Mosley – His drug addiction began as a teenager and led to several drug-related convictions. In 2008, police officers found 4 ounces of meth in his pocket, leading to a sentence of life imprisonment without parole under Oklahoma law.
- William Dufries – After police found 67 pounds of marijuana in his RV, Dufries was sentenced to life without parole in February 2003. Dufries already had two prior drug-related convictions in 1988 and 1996, which landed him within the parameters of Oklahoma’s habitual offender law.
This is a small sampling of some of the lengthy sentences that have been doled out for non-violent drug convictions. Many prisons are bursting at the seams due to the high number of drug-related sentences. Are they too harsh? Do long sentences act as a meaningful impediment to other drug users? Does the U.S. system do enough to assist people who want to stop abusing drugs but can’t do it on their own? Do we need to detox from drugs or detox our legal system? Do sentencing laws need to be re-evaluated? These heavy questions will continue to weigh on the nation’s psyche as we continue to deal with a steady stream of drug violations.