Cornell Hood II had been convicted of marijuana-related charges three times, and all three times it resulted in probation.
Unfortunately for him, he was recently convicted a fourth time for one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana — a charge that usually carries no more than 15 years in prison — and will now serve a life sentence in Louisiana prisons. Yes, a life sentence.
Under Louisiana’s habitual-offender statute, criminals in the state are “subject to life imprisonment after being convicted three or more times of a crime that carries a sentence exceeding 10 years,” reports The Times-Picayune.
When Hood switched homes [to St. Tammany Parish], he also requested a new probation officer based in St. Tammany. Authorities granted the wish, and the officer, Dustin Munlin, drove to Hood’s place for a routine visit on Sept. 27, 2010.Munlin found nearly two pounds of pot throughout the house, according to court records. He alerted Sheriff’s Office deputies. They arrested Hood, who apparently shared the King’s Point house with his mother and young son.
At Hood’s one-day trial, the evidence presented by the prosecution included a digital scale and about a dozen bags that had contained marijuana before being seized from the house, testimony showed. Deputies also found $1,600 in cash and a student-loan application with Hood’s name on it inside of a night stand.
Jurors deliberated for less than two hours and convicted Hood of a reduced charge, which usually carries no more than 15 years’ imprisonment. Assistant District Attorney Nick Noriea Jr. then used Hood’s past convictions on Thursday to argue that he was a career criminal worthy of a severe punishment.
Judge Raymond S. Childress was more than willing to use those past convictions, and he sentenced the 35-year-old to prison for the rest of his life, or at least until he is granted parole.
The strange thing here, aside from how this is yet another example of why America needs a serious overhaul to its drug laws, is that each of Hood’s previous three convictions carried a suspended five-year prison sentence, which makes it seem as if he’s being wrongly (or overly) sentenced under the repeat-offender and three-strikes laws in Louisiana.
Should Hood serve some time in prison? Absolutely, at least based upon the current drug laws of the land. Hood should have known that another arrest would result in a much more serious charge, and it’s his risk to assume.
But it’s also galactically foolish policy to send away a man to prison FOR LIFE for dealing pot just because he’s been convicted three times already.
When it comes to prison reform, America ultimately needs to ask itself what the prison system is trying to accomplish. Is it to keep the most violent and dangerous members of society off the streets? Or is it to make money by throwing anyone and everyone into lock down?